Saturday December 12th 2015 / 1-3 PM
Outside of 34th Street - Hudson Yards 7 Train Station
South side of 34th st btwn 10th / 11th avenues
One edition (40) of handmade booklets
Short film - 00:02:52:20 total runtime
Archival film - 00:29:52:11 total runtime
Organized by Sean Vegezzi, Alec Tinmar and Spencer Tullis
With works from Abeline Cohen, Keefe Butler, Andrew Kass, Aspen Kincaid and Tommy Malekoff
We should continue to protect our undefined spaces from those who wish to destroy them but how can we ensure that the same spaces do not get withheld from those who wish to create, celebrate and honor within them?
“Joey”—an affectionate colloquialism naming a stereotype of New York City’s builders—was the inspiration for a reading that took place in December 2014, eighty feet under Midtown Manhattan, inside of the New York City Transit System’s 7 Line Extension project. This event, video document, and compilation of poems, essays, and songs are part of an ongoing celebration of those who construct and labor over the spaces we move through and around—not the architects, designers, or developers—but the Joeys.
Sean Vegezzi, Alec Tinmar, and Spencer Tullis are three artists who regularly address the use of New York City's public, private, and undefined spaces in their own work. In early December, they sent five friends an open invitation that read, “Let’s honor the Joey's in a healing gesture for the overworked and the dusty.” Days later, the willing participants were led to a plot of land bordering Hell’s Kitchen, neighboring the Hudson Yards. It was the construction site of the then-unfinished 34th Street station.
Each contributor read—or sang—for Joey, exclaiming their admirations, their odes, and their gratitude. Some even ‘became’ Joeys, donning orange safety vests and hard hats. The participants referenced Joey’s past, namely through the words of Gary Russo, Second Avenue subway worker who wrote Don’t Die With Your Song Unsung after gaining recognition for his lunch break Frank Sinatra renditions, and Jerry Levy, a New York City subway project site manager. Levy said, “...the people who build tunnels are unto themselves. They are beyond description, they are a special breed...most of the hard hats in the tunnel industry are deep intellects.”
All the pieces share a sentiment of empowerment for the Joeys and for the artists themselves. By giving these voices a platform in the very spaces they built but that they have no rights to, no creative freedom within – Joey at once becomes the act of these artists taking that power back. Between the words and the video images, the moments of discovery and play become important acts in opposition to the rigidity of labor work.