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Damiani : Joshua Charow : Loft Law : The Last of New York City’s Original Artist Lofts


Published by Damiani, Loft Law: The Last of New York City’s Original Artist Lofts by Joshua Charow is a photographic journey through the last vestiges of New York City’s artist lofts.

Envied by artists and apartment hunters alike for their wide windows and open floor plans, New York City’s lofts were once manufacturing centres in the late 19th and early 20th century. As urban density pushed industry into the suburbs, these buildings were left empty. Looking for cheap rents and ideal studio spaces, artists struck bargains with landlords to live and work in commercially zoned spaces. But by the 1970s, these same artists faced eviction as their landlords embraced the new wealthy clientele seeping into neighbourhoods such as SoHo, Tribeca, and the Bowery. Enacted in 1982, Article 7-C of the Multiple Dwelling Law, better known as the “Loft Law,” allowed artists to obtain legal occupancy and rent stabilization.

After discovering a map of the protected buildings, documentary filmmaker Joshua Charow embarked on an ambitious project: over two years, he rang hundreds of doorbells, interviewing more than 50 artists still living in these lofts and photographing them in their spaces. He captured images of artists with their works in progress and the unique modifications they made to the lofts to meet legal standards. This timely untold story paints a portrait of a bygone era of New York’s downtown art scene.

“What I discovered was a fascinating history, an amazing group of artists, and a fantastical collection of lofts that are the last of their kind,” writes Charow. “In most cases, these buildings weren’t constructed as homes—but as factories, theaters, or warehouses. These artists had the ingenuity and creativity to envision these forgotten buildings as a perfect place to create art and, ultimately, transformed formerly derelict neighborhoods into the cultural epicenter of the world.”

Artists featured in Loft Law include: Ken Jacobs, Flo Jacobs, Loretta Dunkelman, Katherine Liberovskaya, Phill Niblock, Gerald Marks, Martine Mallary, Michael Sullivan, Carmen Cicero, Joseph Marioni, Carolyn Oberst, Jeff Way, Chuck DeLaney, Joe Haske, Kimiko Fujimura, Steve Silver, Noah Jemison, Sumayyah Samaha, Bob Petrucci, Claire Fergusson, Gilda Pervin, Curtis Mitchell, Ellen Christine, Marsha Pels, Betsy Kaufman, Jennifer Charles, JG Thirlwell, Alex Locadia, Winkel, and Anne Mason.


Joshua Charow is a documentary filmmaker and photographer based in New York City. His projects aim to unveil unseen stories and subcultures across New York City. Charow has directed and shot documentary films for the New York Times, Time magazine, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.


Published by DAMIANI @damiani_books in hardback at £45 €50






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