Common Grounds, Stephen Lipuma, Oct 15th – Nov 12th 2016
Court Tree Collective’s co founder Stephen Lipuma has been selected by the gallery to represent this year’s Gowanus Open Studios. His work will feature his project Common Grounds, which will also be the title of his first book. The book is set to be released on Oct. 15th.
I am a native New Yorker and have spent over 25 years of my life in the great borough of Brooklyn. The changes of the Brooklyn landscape and demographic happen so fast that it’s easy to forget what it was once like before the change. Gentrification has taken a hold of almost every corner of Brooklyn, but there are still pockets that seem untouched…for now.
My memory of this unconscious project started in 2008, the year I became the night and weekend photographer for borough president Marty Markowitz. It was a great time for my career and after years of being a magazine producer it help me regain a stronger relationship with my photography. Everyday I photographed a different section of Brooklyn and it was an opportunity to explore areas like Garrison Beach, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin that all remained authentic. I fell in love and in a leap of faith I moved to Sheepshead Bay which became the best decision of my life. After living in every hipster nook and cranny since college, this seemed like the wild west. Here it was me, myself and my camera. Still with every passing year the authenticity of the Brooklyn neighborhoods vanished and that was a tough pill to swallow. Documenting has always been my focus of interest and in Sheepshead Bay I felt alive. So I decided to capture this fleeting beauty that eventually became Common Grounds.
Common Grounds focuses on these areas. The every-day people, their day to day, the ordinary citizen that inhabits these surroundings. The same way people have before this great change. Whether it’s the old lady at the bus stop or the shop keeper at the 99 cent store. I find great beauty in the simple man and woman. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my own family and it brings me back home. Common Grounds is a reminder of what Brooklyn once was. These images were shot between 2010 – 2014.
One by one, many of the working class quarters have been invaded by the middle class – upper and lower … Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the working class occupiers are displaced and the whole social social character of the district is changed” – Ruth Glass 1964