by Bettina Johae
EMINENT DOMAIN, NYC
Text of the postcard:
Atlantic Yards, NYC
In March, 2010, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that eminent domain may be used to acquire the last of 53 private properties located within the Atlantic Yards development site. The neighborhood had been declared blighted due to its location next to an unused rail yard owned by the state. The controversial project, which will include a basketball arena and 16 skyscrapers, has led to the displacement of 330 residents, 33 businesses with 235 employees, and a homeless shelter. Public streets on the project site have been permanently closed.
Bettina Johae’s project, “eminent domain, nyc” (2010), investigates the use of eminent domain—for public and for private use—in New York City over the past centuries: from the creation of Central Park and the forming of New York’s streets in the 19th century, via the vast condemnations during the Robert Moses era for highways, railways, parks, office buildings, universities, cultural and convention centers, and public and private housing projects to more recent and future projects, such as the New York Times building, the Bank of America Tower, the Atlantic Yards project, Willets Point, and the Columbia University expansion. The project—which was produced as part of the VLA Art & Law residency—so far consists of a series of 10 postcards and a map of eminent domain from the 19th century to today.
Bettina Johae is an artist with an architectural background whose work engages with the changes and perceptions of the city. Her work has been exhibited locally at the New York Public Library, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Goethe Institut, the International Center of Photography, Maccarone Gallery, Smack Mellon, the Kentler International Drawing Space, the Conflux Festival, and the AiOP festival. She lives and works in Brooklyn.