We all know about Hotel Chelsea's recent turmoil, from lawsuits to stop work orders to harassment of old tenants, at the hands of Joseph Chetrit since he began converting the 130-year-old hotel/rental into a new boutique hotel. But in 2011, before the hoopla of renovations kickstarted, photographer Victoria Cohen scored insider access and spent hours roaming the empty halls and capturing old-school, rather ghostly interiors. Her new book is out this month, coupled with an exhibition of her work in September at Third Streaming gallery. Check out the rundown beds, staircases, lobby, and more at the famed, troubled spot that so many famous artists, writers, and creative types called home?Virgil Thomson, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Charles Bukowski, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allen Ginsberg, Sid Vicious, and Iggy Pop, to name a few?even if just for a bit. She told the Times: "It became a responsibility, not just an artistic endeavor to capture the essence... I was not photographing empty rooms, I was taking portraits." Cohen's photos, though, are bereft of any human presence, making them even more eerie.
As Cohen told Crain's: "The artistic spirit may be gone, but this ghostly spirit remains in the pipes and between the walls, and I don't think that will ever totally go away."
· Hotel Chelsea [Pointed Leaf Press]
· Victoria Cohen: Hotel Chelsea [Third Streaming]
· All Hotel Chelsea coverage [Curbed]