Interboro was recently asked to submit some work to COLUMN, a series of new works commissioned for spots in various sizes and sections in five issues of the Poughkeepsie Journal, a daily local newspaper in Dutchess County, New York. As Interboro teaches in Poughkeepsie, and has done some work not far from Poughkeepsie, Interboro was happy to participate, submitting a series of “medical diagrams” revealing the health of the former Dutchess Mall in nearby Fishkill, NY.
Someone from the Journal asked us a few questions about the submission. Here’s how it went:
Q: What was your first reaction when you heard about Marion‘s call for proposals for her project?
A: I thought immediately of the troubles facing local newspapers, and how sad I am every time I hear about a paper folding. The newspaper (online or in print) is a public space, the absence of which could be really damaging.
Q: What inspired your particular piece? Tell me a bit about it.
A: Some years ago, Interboro entered an international ideas competition about dead shopping malls. The competition asked entrants to find a dead mall, discuss its history, and come up with a future vision for it. After a weekend-long tour of New York‘s recent retail past, we found our subject: The Dutchess Mall in Fishkill, NY, which had closed its doors in 1998. What we found, after spending countless hours in the mall’s parking lot, was that it wasn’t quite dead (though its pulse was indeed very weak). See, the owners of the mall were landbanking it: their plan was to sit on it, wait a few years for the market to change (this was in 2002), claim it as a write off against their more lucrative investments in NYC, and then make a big profit by redeveloping it as housing, a corporate campus or–as it turned out–a Home Depot. On the one hand, this wasn’t so great for the community, since it left the community with this big eyesore. On the other hand, while the landbanking developers weren’t paying any attention, the community started to use the mall and its oversized parking lot in all sorts of ways. Some of your readers may remember the Fishkill Flea Market, but this was just the tip of the iceberg. An informal rest stop, a DMV practice course, a graphic design company operating out of a former “Drug World,” a Motorcycle ralley, a UFO siting, an impromptu bus stop: when you looked closely, you realized that the death of the mall was the birth of a very strange city. Our project, which we called “In the Meantime, Life with
Landbanking,” proposed to use this landbanking phase to incubate this strange city by deploying a collection of small, cheap, feasible interventions. The hope was that in, say, 10 years, when the developers are done landbanking, this strange city will have matured some, and will potentially influence the developers’ program.
For the Poughkeepsie Journal, we’re ghostwriting the autobiography of the Dutchess Mall.
Do you read the Poughkeepsie Journal? If so, what sections do you prefer?
A: We don’t read the Poughkeepsie Journal regularly, but we did do some archival research about the Dutchess Mall in the Journal.
Q: What do you think is unique about Marion‘s project?
A: It’s unique that Marion is using the newspaper as an exhibition space.
Q: Have you ever done anything like this before?
A: Not really.
Column was curated by Marion Ritter for Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies.