333 West 39th Street

The shifting infrastructure of urban centers has been a recurring subject throughout Lutter’s oeuvre. Since the beginning of her career, New York City, with its rapidly transforming neighborhoods and ubiquitous construction sites, has provided ample opportunity to follow a city in a state of constant transformation. The large influx of budget hotels and high-rise residential buildings being erected in Manhattan’s Garment District in recent years reflects this trend. A neighborhood once known for its clothing factories is now accommodating crowds of tourists and the next generation of high-paying property owners.

In a series of images made between April 2010 and August 2012, Lutter traced the demolition of a parking lot across from her Midtown Manhattan studio and its subsequent replacement by a luxury apartment building. Although construction projects such as this are common in Manhattan, witnessing the month-to-month transformation calls attention to the contained activity required to gradually change the face of a city.

Lutter’s series of large paper negatives begins with the quickly disappearing lot, filled with debris and marked by identifying posters along the bottom edge. The images, created through a pinhole aperture in her studio window, document the progression through various stages of demolition and reconstruction, and after more than a year of work, the photographs show the site as a sleek, new building façade filling the entire frame resulting in a rather claustrophobic impression.

The contrast between the vastness of the open lot and the deadpan veneer of the new building emphasizes the surface of the picture-plane itself. Once erected, the building’s windows reflect Lutter’s own vantage point from across the street and consequently impart the later photographs with slight voyeuristic connotations. Lutter’s images, however, go beyond this as they position themselves as both observational and self-reflective, a window and a mirror, similar to her Columbus Avenue works. Moving from a projected space to the flat plane of the façade, attention shifts through the series from the conditions of the changing world to the very mechanisms of sight that allow those conditions to be perceived.