Project Description – Red Hook
Vera Lutter Project Description – Red Hook

Erie Basin, Red Hook, VIII: October 16, 2003
48 × 155 inches (122 × 394 cm )

Brooklyn’s Red Hook district, bound by the Hudson River and the Gowanus Canal, is known for its murky waterfront and high concentration of warehouses. After surveying the endlessly changing neighborhood, I selected Erie Basin as the subject of my Red Hook project. Though it was all but forgotten in 2003, the Erie Basin once supported a series of crowded mid-nineteenth-century ports designed to connect the Erie Canal to critical Atlantic trade routes. Built from marshland, it created a booming industry out of real estate that had essentially been conjured from the sea. Concentrating on the water’s edge, my images capture the continuing flux of natural and urban forces indelibly associated with this industrial area of waterways and commerce on the fringes of New York City.

Juxtaposing industry and nature, structure and fluidity, stasis and movement, the photographs capture a sense of the erosive conditions at work in an industrial wasteland. Structures which once proudly populated this area of Red Hook are now revealing signs of a forgotten industry, many sit rusted, sunken, and dilapidated along the shore. Impressive in their own time, the formerly bustling factories and piers in my images seem quaint by current standards. Since these photographs were made, the area surrounding the Erie Basin has been taken over by the Swedish furniture powerhouse IKEA, altering yet again the makeup of the neighborhood. In addition to this, such changes affect the place that my images occupy within the City’s record. This body of work’s raw and closely cropped views of the Basin’s banks continue to remind us that not much can be held constant. It’s never long before time itself asserts its erosive capabilities over our experiences and memories of a place.