Art

Eye Mask: Watching the Block with Lucky Debellevue

Lucky Debellevue

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Lucky Debellevue, untitled, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

For 10 years, I’ve taken photos from the window of my Lower East Side apartment. I started when I returned from an artist residency, staying longer than anticipated. Perhaps I started doing this as a way situate myself in my world again. Perhaps it’s because I like ritual and pattern.

Something that began out of curiosity—and possibly boredom—became a compelling practice for me. I’d like to say that I was like the cat in James Joyce’s Ulysses, “A wise tabby, a blinking sphinx,” who “watched from her sill,” patiently waiting for the right shot. Mostly, though, it’s a result of drinking too much coffee and pacing around my place, when something outside caught my eye. Sometimes I got my camera in time to record it, and sometimes the moment was gone.

There have been a number of surprises, such as waking up one morning and seeing the street transformed to the early 1900s with dirt roads, horses and women in long skirts, becoming the set for a cable series I’ve never seen. Karl Lagerfeld appeared in my window one day, floating in a lift with his assistants, taking photos of a model on a fire escape, looking as unreal as a cartoon James Bond villain.

The less spectacular images, such as a man checking the cuffs on his dress shirt in anticipation of something, a lone person in a wheelchair at night, people who would stand in this one particular place on the street, over and over during the years, to the point where it become a kind of activated stage each time they did it, are all equally interesting to me. There is much more I could say about this project, but it can’t be encapsulated easily when thinking of the hundreds of photos I have taken. Documenting change and place is nothing new, but it is unique each time it is done. Here are a few examples.

Lucky Debellevue, untitled, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Lucky Debellevue, untitled, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Lucky Debellevue, untitled, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Lucky Debellevue, untitled, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.