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Intimate Black and White Photos of Life Inside the Chelsea Hotel

You could argue that the Chelsea Hotel is one of the last remaining vestiges of New York City’s golden age. A landmark with an incredibly rich cultural history, it’s the place where Dylan Thomas and Nancy Spungen died, Warhol shot Chelsea Girls, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen wrote some of their most famous songs, and the Beats unofficially set up camp. Inside the Chelsea Hotel, a series of photos shot by Julia Calfee over a four-year period in the early aughts when she called the legendary building home, celebrates what made it a beacon for a slew of weird and interesting characters, a bohemian paradise for impoverished unknowns with big dreams.

“It was possible to come to live in the Chelsea Hotel without questions about a past, without a job, without any credit or credit card or checkbook,” she explains. “Here it is possible without criticism to be drunk, stoned, or screaming with the pain of life, and know that the police will not necessarily be called… When I photographed at the Chelsea Hotel, I would stay in a space or situation for hours. Time would pass and my presence would become less and less visible. Sometimes I would even disappear.”

Click through for slideshow of select photos from the series, which was published as a collection by powerHouse books back in 2008, and will be on display at Singapore’s Art Plural Gallery early next fall. Kind of makes these images of the building in its current state even more depressing, huh?


Photo credit: Julia Calfee courtesy of Art Plural Gallery

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