Little Syria

A series of overlapping projects revolving around the vanished Arabic enclave in lower Manhattan. “Little Syria” was the center of Levantine immigrant life from the late 1800’s through the 1940’s when two acts of eminent domain effectively wiped out the neighborhood.

1. Field Notes
Between 2010-2012 I made regular visits to the former Little Syria locale, trying to isolate–from the contemporary architecture–visions of a depopulated, utopian New York, as imagined by Ameen Rihani in his 1911 Book of Khalid.


2.”Dragoman of Little Syria”, Photo-essay for The Highlights.
The images from Field Notes were placed within the pages of Book of Khalid, and the resulting images are paired with the text from an current House of Representatives Resolution to honor Rihani.
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3.Museum of the Mother Colony
During a Summer 2012 stint as artist-in-residence at Mary Mattingly’s nomadic housing experiment, Flockhouse, I worked with the advocacy group, Save Washington Street, to organize a memorial for the former Arabic neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, “Little Syria”. The project exhibited historical artifacts (from business documents to photos to household ephemera) within found furniture in the open air in Battery Park, affecting a provisional museum in keeping with the Flockhouse’s nomad status and intended to evoke the displacement of the former community.

Included with the installation shots are two 3-d animations that were made for the Museum and screened on Friday, June 30th, along with a lecture by Todd Fine, founder of Save Washington Street, and director of Project Khalid. Fine is responsible for wrestling Ameen Rihani’s, The Book of Khalid out of totally obscurity into a 2012 edition by Melvillehouse Press.
(You will need blue and red (anaglyph) 3-d glasses to view the animations properly…)

Little Syria, Drifts (3D) from Brian Zegeer on Vimeo.

Pull My Daisy

 

Pull my daisy is an improvisational digital video and audio performance conducted with the musician, Baby Copperhead. In 2008, we were squatting in Allen Ginsberg’s derelict former apartment in the east village. We staged a reenactment of the 1959 Robert Frank / Alfred Leslie picture, Pull My Daisy, which included a handfull of performers and was recorded on video. Since that time, we have “performed” this loose narrative footage at dozens of venues throughout the East Coast. During each performance we collaborate to discover a new narrative using the same recorded digital material.



“Pull My Daisy” Highlights from performance with Baby Copperhead, Queens Museum, 2012