New York City in the early 1990s was dramatically different to how we know it now, if Ash Thayer’s new book Kill City is anything to go by. The Lower East Side was overrun with derelict buildings and dingy corners, and having been kicked out of her Brooklyn apartment Ash came across a welcoming community at a squat called See Skwat. As publisher PowerHouse explains, in that era “squatters took over entire buildings, but these structures were barely habitable. They were overrun with vermin, lacking plumbing, electricity, and even walls, floors, and a roof. Punks and outcasts joined the squatter movement and tackled an epic rebuilding project to create homes for themselves.”
Ash kept her camera at hand throughout her time living in one squat or another in the 90s, photographing her fellow residents as they learnt crafts and sourced materials from NYC’s endless rubbish. As a result the photographs she presents in this series are intimate and friendly in their recording of a Bohemian era which has long deteriorated in the city, giving a rare insight into an insular and protective community and creating a touching memoir.
Kill City is available from PowerHouse Books.