Victoria Cohen and the Hotel Chelsea

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ever since I can remember, I've known of Hotel Chelsea as this iconic (but perhaps decrepit) place, full of history and star buzz. I don't know if it's because I grew up reading "The Baby-Sitters Club," in which my favorite character Stacey's best friend from home lived in the Dakota (only marginally related), or because one of my favorite actresses as a child was Gaby Hoffmann, who grew up in Hotel Chelsea with her mother Viva, of Andy Warhol-era fame.

Either way, the Hotel Chelsea has been undergoing some incredibly necessary renovations since August 2011, and a photographer named Victoria Cohen captured the hotel as it stood before. The photos to me are altogether eerie, like a skeleton of what once was. I can see some elements of the Hotel Chelsea in the simplicity of some of the downtown New York City hotels today, like Robert DeNiro's Greenwich Hotel. At best, some of these photographs capture a slither of the glamour that must have oozed out of this place in its heyday. But it seems the Hotel Chelsea was never meant to be terribly decadent, but a gathering place (perhaps a euphemism in some cases), maybe even a place to starve the soul and inspire art?

That's what I get from Victoria Cohen's photographs, which are on display at Third Streaming gallery on Greene Street through October 26.

The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City
The Hotel Chelsea in New York City

All photographs can be found on Victoria Cohen's site.

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