|Installation view; Whitney Museum of American Art. Photography by Ronald Amstutz|
A few years ago, James wrote a story for Curbed about the artist Hans Haacke and one of his most famous artworks, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971.
This work was one of the controversial pieces that caused Haacke's 1971 solo show at the Guggenheim Museum to be cancelled. As James writes, Haacke
undertook to map out the holdings of prolific real estate investor Harry J. Shapolsky, who at the peak of his career had owned as many as 200 tenements in Harlem, the East Village, and the Lower East Side. Using public records, Haacke painstakingly unearthed the dozens of shell corporations that Shapolsky and his relatives had created to control properties around the city. Haacke then photographed each property and presented his findings—142 buildings in all—as gelatin silver prints, each accompanied by a dossier of facts: the building's address, block and lot number, lot size, and building type. Below that was information on ownership: corporate entity, date of acquisition, cost of the mortgage, the names of which of Shapolsky's associates were involved, and the assessed land value.That same year, Haacke also researched and created a second piece: Sol Goldman and Alex DiLorenzo Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971. That piece is now owned by the Tate, but is currently on view at the Met Breuer as part of its exhibition "Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy," which is on view at the Met's Madison Avenue outpost through March 31, 2019. As New York spirals toward ever-increased gentrification, Haacke's sobering take on real-estate chicanery are well worth exploring.
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