Sarah Crofts

Sarah Crofts is a multi-disciplinary artist living between Brooklyn, NY and Bogotá, Colombia, who works with various time-based processes to create objects and installations that consider the role of power dynamics associated with urban and agricultural landscapes. She received her Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College and Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. Sarah has participated in exhibitions and screenings domestically and abroad, and attended artist residencies at Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, Vermont Studio Center and Miriam Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

As Fences Become Fortresses

The wild spaces in my neighborhood, Red Hook Brooklyn, are disappearing. Fenced off and full of overgrown plants, their removal, among other signifiers, marks the ongoing process of gentrification, which steadily presses on in urban areas across the globe. Motivated by the numerous demolition and construction projects in 2019, I began to make lumen prints around the neighborhood in situ, pressing sheets of analogue black and white photo paper against newly erected construction barriers and old overgrown fences, printing the vines and plants thriving, uncultivated, rethinking documentary photography in terms of touch, trace and forensic index.

Lumen prints are photograms made by contacting printing objects, traditionally botanical specimens, in daylight on silver sensitized paper. Ephemeral, lumens cannot be stabilized or “fixed” like analogue black and white photos without significantly altering their hue, value and contrast. Left unfixed, these images will fade and change with exposure to light – every look at an unstabilized lumen print contributes to its degradation; they hover perceptibly between existence and disappearance, echoing the predicament of citywide development that transforms neighborhoods while displacing and replacing its people. Precisely that which makes something – land, resources, bodies – so special and valuable also makes them vulnerable to various forms of exploitation, violence, and loss. Change is a persistent companion to lumen prints: they maintain their original form under constant threat of disappearance, or undergo a process of transformation that changes their appearance and character to achieve archival stability. Both types of images – fixed and unfixed – talk about time, loss, and change as it relates to bodies and spaces.

Despite the pandemic, several properties are under construction since I started the series – the sprawling corporate offices and distribution centers for UPS and Amazon, a huge self-storage facility, and of course more luxury condos and apartments; I cross my fingers as the rents go up, wondering and worrying about how long I can last here, and what changes I need to make to survive.

To view more of Sarah Crofts’s work please visit their website.