With this in mind, we asked Mr. Basinski to explore the genesis of the festival, the Arcadia era. The following photographs—and accompanying captions by Basinski—live within these pages in the spirit of the artist’s own Disintegration Loops (an opus fittingly conceived in the loft from a series of disintegrating cassette tapes): near-perfect—though haphazardly-documentated—concepts, gutted by their environments, only to be reclaimed as something (possibly) more interestingly new.
James Elaine and I restored a vacant, pigeon-filled masterpiece-of-a-loft in 1989, and when we were finished it was so gorgeous we knew we had to share it with others. I built a studio and a small stage at the end of the “ballroom.” The building was originally The Hecla Iron Work’s showrooms and drafting rooms. It was forged and built onsite of cast iron and concrete with plaster fireproofing, radiant heat, and possibly the first curtain wall construction in the world. The building was landmarked in 1999, I believe, but it is again sadly sitting vacant, at 118 N. 11th Street, between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg. Because of a loft settlement from our previous loft in downtown Brooklyn, I was able to build a proper recording studio and decided to start producing and showcasing local bands. We did about four or five thematic shows a season from 1989 to around 2005 or ’06. And then one or two a year after that for another couple of years. They were very glamorous. The bands got paid very well for the time and people would dress up to attend.
Images Courtesy William Basinski