Brooklyn photographer Laura Weyl doesn’t have a problem finding inspiration. She connects with people of all types, from hearty old men to gorgeous young women. The goal is simple: connect with people from different circles and to create something meaningful. During the creation of this series, entitled “Ghost, Weyl and visual artist Julia Sinelnikova explored the stunning architectural decay at Red Hook’s Port Authority Grain Terminal.
Laura Weyl and Julia Sinelnikova each told us the story of how they created “Ghost.”
“Julia and I set out to conquer the Port Authority Grain Terminal in Red Hook with the giddiness of teenage girls sneaking out of the house for a night of mischief,” said Weyl. “We slathered Julia in white body paint, crowned her with a long white wig, then drove south into the ghostly industrial terrain of Red Hook. A monstrous blizzard two days past left a foot of fresh snow on the ground. We approached the Terminal, an immense burnt-out combat zone domineering the skyline- a mysterious enticing Narnia. With frozen feet, we scaled the perimeter and discovered an open sliver. With a trespass felony pumping our adrenaline, we hopped the fence, ducked under an endless string of box cars and hurled ourselves over a mountain of ice. We arrived at the structure to find all windows soldered shut. Undeterred, we found a breach on the icy water and scaled lily pads of decayed rubble to enter a doorway hanging ten feet high. Once inside, with security guards menacing just outside the premises, we couldn’t speak, but we’d already rehearsed the dramatic, abstract forms that Julia would portray with her body.”
“The clock was ticking,” she said. “Julia removed her clothes swiftly, baring the cold to take sculptural poses under my silent direction. We pressed deeper into the structure and encountered a cluster of decayed concrete and steel protruding onto the water. Our eyes lit up, children in an unmanned candy store. We maneuvered through its shaky chaos and stole our compositions of disorienting shapes. I knew we had it. It was time to move. Sunset was immanent, escape by night impossible, so we boldly evaded the guards in a frenzied exit. As we hopped the last fence…. the Terminal was ours. The sunset blazed our victory in neon pinks and tangerines over Red Hook’s industrial splendor. I felt the pure intoxicating ecstasy of a high school truant, sneaking back home at dawn through the bedroom window. We got away with it. No one could take it from us now.”
“I grew up enmeshed in urban decay, from the outskirts of St. Petersburg, to Houston, to the Industrial Business Zone of North Brooklyn,” said Sinelnikova. “Abandoned architecture being overtaken by nature is a great inspiration, revealing breathing forms for my sculptural installations, and unparalleled light environments. These spaces speak of dystopian futurism, taking me to the mindscapes of Huxley, Pynchon, and Bolano. Laura’s and my visual collaboration attempted to harness this, but over a period of almost two years, we have developed an artistic relationship so natural that we barely need to verbalize its course. We are each other’s subject matter, inhabiting and analyzing archetypes fluidly. The shoot at the Grain Terminal, a landmark ghost factory, shows the culmination of numerous experiments in and out of the studio.
“When we finally found the entrance to the building, the sun was low and we had very little time,” she said. “We may have not even been able to shoot. We wavered several times in fear of prosecution, but I pressed on, because I knew we had to see this. We knew we had to see it. Exposure to a place like this is a once in a lifetime experience which can jog the mind into unpredictable creative directions. The opportunity to explore the space in character, nude, gave me a sense of vulnerability like that of a child, lost in the beauty and danger of the unknown.”