‘The Keepers’ Bring Their Message to Penn Station Neighborhood, September 22nd

 

 

 

The Keepers, Australia. Image credit: Ed Woodham

The Keepers is a performance art intervention created by longtime NYC cultural provocateur, Ed Woodham – scheduled for Friday, September 22 in three different locations around the Penn Station neighborhood (The Church of St. John the Baptist, Gimbel’s Skybridge, and the demolished Hotel Pennsylvania). Woodham is the founder/director of the annual public art festival Art in Odd Placeswhich has taken place each October across 14th Street in Manhattan since 2005.

Expect to see The Keepers between 6:30-7:30am at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 213 West 30th Street and Seventh Avenue ~ From 8:30-9:30am at the Gimbels Sky Bridge at West 32nd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues ~ and from 10:30-11:30am at the demolished Hotel Pennsylvania at 401 Seventh Avenue.

The Keepers, Gowanus. Image credit: Ed Woodham

The Keepers  is a durational still performative group action. It aims to bring attention to the blatant demolition of the Penn Station neighborhood’s historic buildings, and the disregard of the natural limits of density. Also, look for Keeper Chasers (or simply Chasers) hobbyists (like storm chasers) who obsessively follow The Keepers to different sites for adventure, scientific investigation, and reporting to news and media coverage. In a phone interview an anonymous Chaser, explained in abundant detail that

The Keepers. Image credit: Ed Woodham.

The Keepers appear when life is out of balance with nature in response to the gentrification and rapid mass development of urban areas where the importance of the mixed-use district, history of the area, and the natural environment have been ignored.The Keepers are a life form living on the border between animal and plant consciousness,” said the Chaser. “They disrupt conventions, identities, and norms. The Keepers are aberrations in response to the rapid mass redevelopment of urban areas where the importance of the diverse community, chronicled past of the neighborhood, and the natural environment have been disregarded.”

The Keepers, Queens. Image credit: Ed Woodham

The Keepers September activation has been commissioned by the Preservation League of NYS as part of a New York State Council on the Arts-funded project drawing attention to the League’s Seven to Save endangered historic sites across the state through artistic interventions. The Penn Station Neighborhood, which is threatened with needless and large-scale demolition, was identified as a Seven to Save in 2022. This project is organized in partnership with the Empire Station Coalition.

The Keepers, Asbury Park, NJ. Image credit: Ed Woodham

Over the years, The Keepers have been spotted at various gentrified global sites in New York City, including Gowanus, Brooklyn and Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens; several sites in Sydney and in western Australia; Krakow, Poland, and Asbury Park, NJ.

The Keepers (footprint). Image credit: Ed Woodham

Empire Station Coalition is a coalition of 14 organizations opposed to the plan to demolish the neighborhood around Penn Station and replace it with ten glass skyscrapers owned by Vornado, NYC’s largest real estate investment trust.

The Preservation League of NYS is a statewide nonprofit focused on investing in people and projects that champion the essential role of preservation in community revitalization, sustainable economic growth, and the protection of our historic buildings and landscapes. The League has been helping New York State communities retain and reuse threatened sites through its Seven to Save Endangered Sites Program since 1999. Building on partnerships with groups and individuals, Seven to Save listing has been a key catalyst to the successful revival of dozens of buildings, landscapes, downtowns, and neighborhoods endangered by threats such as lack of regulatory protections, neglect, imminent demolition, and incompatible development.

Ed Woodham, The Keeper. Image courtesy Ed Woodham.

Ed Woodham is an elder queer independent conceptual artist, curator, producer, and educator based in NYC. He has been active in community art, education, and civic interventions across media and culture for over forty-five years. He employs humor, irony, subtle detournement, and a striking visual style in order to encourage greater consideration of – and provoke deeper critical engagement – with the environment. Woodham created the project Art in Odd Places (AiOP) as a response to the disappearance of public space and personal civil liberties. Woodham has taught workshops in politically based public performances at NYU Hemispheric Institute for EMERGENYC and at School of Visual Arts in NYC for City as Site: Public Art as Social Intervention.