In a city where “how much is your rent?” is a perfectly acceptable icebreaker, it’s second nature to look into the windows of a NYCHA high-rise, or though the scaffolding of an under-construction luxury tower, and wonder, “what’s it like to live there?” A new public art project initiated by Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida lets participants satisfy their voyeurism through a residency series, short-term stays in sample New York City “affordable” and “luxury” units.
Powhida and Dalton have worked together since 2008, although MONTH2MONTH is their first collaboration since 2012. Produced by social justice nonprofit More Art, MONTH2MONTH’s 4-day residencies are augmented by a monthlong calendar of public events that invite housing activists, politicians, artists, “doormen, financial journalists, and other stakeholders” to discuss how class, wealth, and race intersect to affect the ability of different groups to live in New York.
With affordable housing now tied to luxury development, some events will interrogate how recently passed zoning changes stand to reshape neighborhood density and residential composition, while others will focus on art’s uneasy relationship with the real estate interests, gentrification, and monied class that supports artistic production in New York. Sample events include an arch champagne tasting with finance writer Felix Salmon that addresses the “wide range” of housing contexts in New York (though presumably the discussion skews towards the Sherman McCoys of this world), as well as an interactive session around displacement with artist/activist Betty Yu. In addition to formal events, residents/participants will co-mingle with members of the public in the affordable and luxury apartments to share dinner, make art, sing karaoke, and create semi-public community in private spaces.
The first happening, a housewarming party, is this Saturday, May 7. See MONTH2MONTH’s full lineup of events here.