thomas kohler
email: tkohler@pratt.edu
Instagram: @nummoh


Scenes of Imminent Danger: Newtown Creek

The boundary between Brooklyn and Queens is, in large part, defined by Newtown creek and its surrounding watershed. Historically polluted, the area has been tucked away from easy pedestrian access- visible only from a few bridges and the dark access streets that service the factories around it. This summer I found myself living in a thirty foot sailboat docked in the shadow of what was then the Circus Warehouse near the Pulaski Bridge with a friend of mine. There was no running water, the creek smelled, summer heat was especially brutal, but rent was cheap.  In the day, the area was bouncing with day-glo vested men carrying spools of wire into large vans; at night, the area slowed, the scenes of industry and labor became quiet sites for lonely streetlights to illuminate the rippling black water of Newtown Creek. I enjoyed going out at night to photograph the sites of ecological disaster being cloaked as multi-function processing plants and cement warehouses.  Incredibly large factories seemed like dollhouses waiting to be filled, large mounds of road salt laid waiting to be spread, and empty billboards glowed against gray skies. Somehow populated and not. The danger of the area was not immediate, but nonetheless present. I came to see the threat of these places is not so much in their presence but in their purpose.