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ESSAY: THE GHOST WITHIN THE WALLS

  • TEXT JENNIFER BAILEY
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    JENNIFER BAILEY

    Editor

    Jennifer Bailey is an American who lives in Paris; she is a professor, popular blogger and fashion collage artist, whose work has been featured in European magazines and fashion campaigns. In her spare time, she writes about the arts. She is also a model. Been one since the 90s.

  • PHOTOGRAPHY VICTORIA COHEN
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    VICTORIA COHEN

    Photographer

    Victoria Cohen is a New York photographer whose work has been inspired by autobiographical philosophical realms using space, decay and ecstasy. She presently returned from Cuba where she was exclusively invited to document the under belly of Afro-Cuban Catholic sacraments. Currently in Paris, working on her second book about the interplay of religious iconography, sexuality and the human condition. Next goal is to conquer Europe!

Piece of Me

“Don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.”

LEONARD COHEN

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IF THESE WALLS COULD SPEAK:  AN EXPLORATION OF REMARKABLE: THE GHOST WITHIN

How many times have we all heard the phrase: “If these walls could talk?” —a cliché— perhaps?  Unequivocally not. This is one the oldest universal desires–so authentic– that a single person has mused time and time again, the essential yearning to be in an alternative time and space enticing the human soul and the intellectual hunger to be present to a perceptive theory that is lost forever for the mind to envisage. Yet, one extraordinary woman was able to walk upon these grounds, known as HOTEL CHELSEA and hear the voices not with her ears—yet with the vision of her soul and camera lens. And, this is New York based photographer, Victoria Cohen. Her book, HOTEL CHELSEA by Pointed Leaf Press is now available throughout fine European bookstores and a best seller of Amazon.com.

Miraculously, Victoria Cohen was granted exclusive access to capture the ghosts of lost Bohemia before it was ill fated for renovations in 2011—when Hotel Chelsea was closed for the first time. Her photographs have been published in a book, simply titled: HOTEL CHELSEA, Located at 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, in Manhattan. A temporary domain and home to some of the most, noble, and unconventional writers, musicians, artists, and actors including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen, Germaine Greer and Quentin Crisp to name but a few. It is famously where Jack Kerouac wrote ‘On The Road’, where Arthur C. Clarke wrote ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ where Andy Warhol directed his film ‘Chelsea Girls’, and where poets Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso used to carry out philosophical and artistic, truth-seeking exchanges and drunken violent rages. In quarters, off limits to most; a fantastical environment, where anything at anytime could happen. For example, the unification of the muse, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe created a moment in time within these walls never to be replicated. And, we cannot forget the horrific romanticism of the drug-laden fate of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen with a knife plugged into her heart at the hey day of Punk Rock. But these walls cannot talk? Yet what remained was the proof of art created at this poignant place that changed the world, as we know it.

But we all know the history, do we not? There have been hundreds of books, songs and memories to document in language the special atmosphere of this now lost environment, caught like a wild child to be gentrified. Horrid.  But do we know the profound uniqueness of these spaces inhibited to most and now sadly destroyed by renovation? We most certainly do now and this is thanks to the homage of one, Victoria Cohen’s capturing these now destroyed domains of the supreme phantom of the artists, which do not exist through only natural lighting and hand-held camera—nothing was “set up.” So, one could experience being in these rooms with her. Alone, she photographed “as is” and nothing was stylized or of any artifice.  A true representation of the evidence of what was.

Not just spaces but a visual perspective of rooms that are devoid of text—just outstanding photographs of digs so irreverent and profound equally that the viewer an authentic insight into the profound.

Victoria Cohen’s book, HOTEL CHELSEA, with a tremendously successful exhibition in the United States, is the only remaining documentation of these particular profound rooms, which are viewed through the feminine eye of a talent so rich in the forever lost; This enormously stunning coffee table book of 168 pages of 25,5 X 3,8 X 38, 1 cm.

So, let us now go back to original question and answer: “could walls talk?’ But of course they can and you, the contemplator, can evoke the undeniable destruction of what once was and via AMAZON.COM as well as fine art bookstores throughout Europe. Now, is your chance to listen and look into the spirit of these very rooms—which will never be more?

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