M 1-5. 2013
(Collaboration with Marginal Editions)
Letterpress on paper. Edition of 20.
11 x 11 in.

M1-5 refers to the Greenwich Village zoning district designated as a manufacturing zone and site of labor.[1] A historic building built in 1919 was located on Bethune Street and housed Superior Printing Ink Co. until 2006.  The brick factory featured 195-foot-tall smokestacks. Though much of Greenwich Village is landmarked, the site where Superior Printing Ink Co. stood was never designated as a historic structure by New York City, and as a result the property was purchased, privatized and developed by Related Companies realty group.  The building was then demolished in 2006, after obtaining a variance from the New York City Board of Standards & Appeals.  The tall smokestacks were dismantled, and a new project would take their place: a luxury residential tower named Superior Ink.  
The development project included several design iterations, a change of architects, and was not met without contention. Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates was originally contracted to design the building, however, his design featured a curving glass curtain-wall which was "entirely inappropriate for [the] neighborhood, and [would have] in fact alter[ed] the neighborhood character."[2]  Robert A.M. Stern, known for his practice of "contextual architecture" was hired as a means to "utilize masonry and recessed windows throughout the [building's] façade"[3] in an attempt to reflect, and perhaps, preserve the "character" of the neighborhood.  However, regardless of its construction technique and aesthetic, the project bears little similarity to the socio-economic history of Greenwich Village or its neighbors.


M1-5 is printed using the ink of Superior Printing Ink Co., which currently holds ISO 9000 certification.  ISO 9000, a "quality management system" used by corporations to ensure compliance with industry standards and their symbolic value, has become a systematic signifier of the global market.  Not unrelated, M1-5 spatially and diagrammatically considers the disproportionate relationships between private and public fields and concentrations of extreme wealth.  M1-5 re-presents the floor-plan of a $17,000,000. Superior Ink apartment and considers both the cultural capital of a neighborhood and how its "character" is commodified often to the exclusion of those who established it as a site of desire.  The work asks, whether a variance is simply a shift in program, a matter of utilizing masonry instead of glass, or a larger nonegalitarian and expulsive condition.


[1] See 1961 New York City Zoning Resolution
[2] Andrew Berman, (Executive Director Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) Letter to Meenakshi Srinivasan, (Chair of New York City Board of Standards and Appeals) December 1, 2005
[3] Ibid.