A visit to Fotografiska New York, a photography museum located in the landmarked Church Missions House in the Flatiron District. NYC-ARTS discussed the building’s architectural past with Nancy Ruddy of design firm CetraRuddy, and the museum’s unique approach to photography with Amanda Hajjar, director of exhibitions.

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NOW A VISIT TO FOTOGRAFISKA NEW YORK, A NEW PHOTOGRAPHY MUSEUM IN THE FLATIRON DISTRICT.

LOCATED IN THE LANDMARKED CHURCH MISSION BUILDING, THE MUSEUM IS THE NEWEST GLOBAL OUTPOST FROM THE STOCKHOLM-BASED DESTINATION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY.

THE BUILDING WAS RENOVATED BY ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN FIRM CETRARUDDY TO PROVIDE A MIX OF COMMERCIAL, GALLERY AND EVENT SPACE.

THE FIRM RECENTLY WON A LUCY G.

MOSES PRESERVATION AWARD FROM THE NEW YORK LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY FOR ITS WORK ON THIS HISTORIC BUILDING.

AFTER THE MANY CLOSURES LAST SPRING DUE TO THE PANDEMIC, THE MUSEUM RE-OPENED IN AUGUST- EAGER TO BRING ITS WORLD-CLASS PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITIONS BACK TO THE PUBLIC.

THE MUSEUM HAS PRESENTED A WIDE RANGE OF PHOTOGRAPHERS AND SUBJECTS: FROM TAWNY CHATMON'S GILDED PORTRAITS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN, TO THE PROVOCATIVE RECREATIONS OF BIBLICAL SCENES BY ADI NES; FROM THE FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY OF ELLEN VON UNWERTH, TO THE PHOTOJOURNALISM OF ANASTASIA TAYLOR-LIND, AMONG MANY OTHERS.

NYC-ARTS VISITED THE MUSEUM TO DISCUSS THE BUILDING'S UNIQUE ARCHITECTURAL PAST, AS WELL AS ITS FUTURE.

AMANDA HAJJAR, DIRECTOR OF EXHIBITIONS FOTOGRAFISKA WAS FOUNDED IN 2010 IN STOCKHOLM BY TWO BROTHERS.. THEY'VE HAD OVER 250 EXHIBITIONS AT THIS POINT. IN JUNE OF 2010, THEY OPENED THE SECOND LOCATION, WHICH IS ACTUALLY IN TALLINN, ESTONIA, ND IN DECEMBER OF 2019 NEW YORK OPENED.

NANCY RUDDY, FOUNDING PARTNER CETRARUDDY: FOTOGRAFISKA OCCUPIES A NYC LANDMARK THAT WAS BUILT IN 1894 AS THE MISSION HOUSE FOR THE EPISCOPALIAN CHURCH THAT IS DOWN THE STREET.

IT WAS AN UNDERUTILIZED NEW YORK CITY LANDMARK. AND ONE OF THE REALLY EXCITING CHALLENGES OF THE PROJECT WAS TO TAKE THIS BEAUTIFUL BUILDING THAT WAS 126 YEARS OLD AND GIVE IT NEW LIFE AND GIVE IT LONGEVITY FOR THE NEXT TWO OR 300 YEARS THE ARCHITECTURE IS KNOWN AS NEO FLEMISH, AND IT REFERS BACK TO THE BEAUTIFUL GUILD HALLS AND TOWN HALLS OF NORTHERN EUROPE THAT WERE BUILT IN THE 15TH AND 16TH CENTURIES. THE BUILDING HAS AN AMAZING LIMESTONE AND GRANITE FACADE THAT IS PUNCTUATED BY LARGE ARCHED WINDOWS. IN THE RESTORATION, WHEN WE UNEARTHED ALL OF THIS BEAUTIFUL SCULPTURE, WE ALSO PUT VERY DISCRETE LIGHTING ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING SO THAT YOU COULD SEE SIX FLOORS UP THE AMAZING ORIGINAL DETAILING THAT NO ONE KNEW WAS THERE FOR OVER 100 YEARS.

AMANDA HAJJAR: AS PEOPLE MOVE THROUGH THE SPACE, WHAT WE REALLY WANTED TO EMPHASIZE IS DIFFERENT TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY: STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MIXED WITH FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY MIXED WITH LANDSCAPE, FINE ART, CONCEPTUAL WORK, REALLY HAVE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT FOTOGRAFISKA IN STOCKHOLM HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL WITH IS EXHIBITION DESIGN. WE'VE DECIDED TO ALSO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING THIS BUILDING AND BLOCKING OUT NATURAL LIGHT TO ACTUALLY USE THAT, TO ELEVATE THE WORK. SO WE USE A LOT OF WALLPAPERS, COLORS, FONTS, TO FURTHER EXPLAIN WHAT THESE PHOTOGRAPHS OR WHAT THIS EXHIBITION IS ABOUT.

ELLEN VON UNWERTH IS MOST WIDELY KNOWN FOR HER FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY. SHE AND NADINE BARTH, THE CURATOR THAT WORKED ON THAT EXHIBITION, CREATED THESE SEVEN DIFFERENT SORT OF THEMES WITHIN THE EXHIBITION.

THEY EACH HAD THEIR DIFFERENT COLORS. WE USED THE COVERS THAT SHE HAD SHOT OVER HER CAREER OF 30 PLUS YEARS, AND MADE THOSE INTO WALLPAPERS. IT WAS A REALLY FUN AND DYNAMIC WAY, I THINK, OF SHOWING PHOTOGRAPHY AND IT SORT OF STEERS US AWAY FROM THAT WHITE CUBE MODEL THAT'S SO TRADITIONAL.

THE ARTISTS COOPER AND GORFER ACTUALLY DID THESE EXTENSIVE INTERVIEWS AND PORTRAITS OF MIGRANT WOMEN WHO HAD TO LEAVE THEIR HOME COUNTRIES FOR VARIOUS REASONS, USUALLY DUE TO SOME SORT OF CONFLICT OR VIOLENCE HAPPENING, AND ENDED UP LIVING IN SWEDEN. COOPER AND GORFER ACTUALLY DESIGNED THE WALLPAPERS AND WE HANG THE PHOTOGRAPHS ON TOP OF THEM. AND SARAH AND NINA REALLY WANTED PEOPLE TO WALK INTO THAT SPACE AND FEEL ENCOMPASSED BY THESE INTRICATE SETS THAT THEY HAD CREATED AND THESE PORTRAITS THAT THEY PHOTOGRAPHED.

MARTIN SCHOELLER IS WORKING WITH A NONPROFIT CALLED WITNESS TO INNOCENCE. AND WHAT HE DECIDED TO DO WAS, IN HIS SORT OF QUINTESSENTIAL STYLE, TAKE THESE UP-CLOSE PORTRAITS OF DEATH ROW EXONEREES. BUT ACTUALLY HE FILMED THE SITTERS, THEY'RE SLIGHTLY MOVING AND IT'S A VIDEO INSTALLATION. HE DECIDED TO ALSO RECORD THEIR STORIES. SO YOU'RE HEARING FROM THEIR OWN WORDS, WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE ARRESTED, GO ON TRIAL, BE CONVICTED AND, AND LIVE ON DEATH ROW FOR CRIMES THAT THEY DID NOT COMMIT. AND I SAY REAL LOUD, I DON'T WANT TO DIE . . . AS YOU MOVE THROUGH THE EXHIBITION, WHAT WE ACTUALLY DECIDED TO DO WAS CREATE THIS SENSE OF TIGHT SORT OF INTIMACY GETTING, EVEN CLOSER AND CLOSER, YOU KNOW, TO ALMOST WHAT A DEATH ROW CELL LOOKS LIKE SO THAT PEOPLE REALLY GET A SENSE OF WHAT THEIR LIVES WERE LIKE WHILE THEY WERE INCARCERATED.

WE HAVE SOME LOCAL EXHIBITIONS THAT DON'T TOUR TO THE OTHER LOCATIONS, SPECIFIC ARTISTS THAT ARE DEALING WITH VERY RELEVANT ISSUES TO NEW YORK OR TO AMERICA. LARRY FINK IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS OF HIS GENERATION, MAINLY IN STREET PHOTOGRAPHY. LARRY FINK ACTUALLY CONTACTED US AND SAID, I REALLY LOVE YOUR, THE PROGRAM THAT YOU'RE DOING CALLED PHOTOGRAPHERS ON THE FRONT LINES. AND THIS WAS WHEN WE REALLY HANDED OVER OUR PLATFORMS TO PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT WERE PHOTOGRAPHING THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT. AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW, THIS IS REALLY WHAT I WAS DOING THROUGHOUT MY CAREER.

I WOULD LOVE TO GET INVOLVED.

LET'S DO SOMETHING ON THE PROTEST PHOTOGRAPHY THAT I TOOK IN THE SIXTIES. SO WHAT YOU'RE SEEING HERE IS A LOT OF WORK FROM HARLEM AND WASHINGTON DC WITH VARIOUS STUDENT PROTESTS.

SO YOUTH PROTESTS, THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON. THAT'S ONE OF THE STRENGTHS OF FOTOGRAFISKA IS THAT WE CAN RESPOND PRETTY QUICKLY TO RELEVANT ISSUES AND STAY VERY CURRENT.

NAIMA GREEN IS ANOTHER GOOD EXAMPLE. SHE'S A BROOKLYN BASED ARTIST AND ALL OF HER EX ALL OF HER PHOTOGRAPHS ARE OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, MOSTLY PEOPLE OF COLOR. MORE OF A CELEBRATION, THESE VERY SORT OF INTIMATE AND CAREFULLY CRAFTED PHOTOGRAPHS.

OUR WHOLE CONCEPT IS REALLY CATERING TO THE NEW WAY THAT WE FEEL THAT PEOPLE WANT TO VISIT MUSEUMS, WHERE IT'S A LITTLE BIT MORE EXPERIENTIAL, A LITTLE BIT MORE INTERACTIVE. ON THE SIXTH FLOOR, WE DO A LOT OF EVENTS AND PROGRAMMING ; ARTISTS TALKS, COSTUME PARTIES, WE'VE DONE PERFORMANCE PIECES, CONCERTS, KIND OF PULLING FROM ALL THESE DIFFERENT AREAS, MAKE IT A LAYERED EXPERIENCE.

DURING THE PANDEMIC, WE DID TRANSITION A LOT OF OUR PROGRAMMING ONLINE, A LOT OF LIVE STREAMING EVENTS. OUR FAMILY PROGRAMMING THAT USED TO TAKE PLACE INSIDE THE BUILDING, WE'VE MOVED IT OUTSIDE WHEN WE CAN. THIS IS REALLY GOING TO CHANGE THE WAY PEOPLE EXPERIENCE A MUSEUM OR EXPERIENCE FOTOGRAFISKA SPECIFICALLY.

AMANDA HAJJAR: I THINK WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO FOTOGRAFISKA IS BEING RELEVANT AND RESPONDING QUICKLY TO WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE WORLD. WE REALLY WANT PEOPLE TO COME TO FOTOGRAFISKA AND, SEE THAT SOCIAL RELEVANCE IN THE ARTWORK THAT'S ON DISPLAY.