BOOK REVIEW: LIVING INSIDE THE CHELSEA HOTEL BY LINDA TROELLER
Patti Smith loved this place. She loved its shabby elegance, and the history it held so possessively. According to locals, this place is considered one of the most haunted and alluring buildings in New York. Honoring secret passageways and dozens of mysterious rooms, many critically acclaimed books, music albums, films and artworks were created in its walls. Revealing the memories of residents and guests from the past 20 years, Living Inside the Chelsea Hotel comprises a selection of 76 photographs gathered by Linda Troeller, an award-winning photographer and longtime Chelsea Hotel resident. Her 2007 book Chelsea Hotel: An Artist’s Memoir, was reviewed in the New York Times and featured in Vogue, Italy and won the Special Prize at the Teplice Photo Festival (Prague) in 2013.
©Linda Troeller. Virgil Thompson, Librettist, Historic Apartment, 1999.
Being designated New York City landmark since 1966, the legendary Chelsea Hotel is widely known for the notability of its residents over the years such as actor Ethan Hawke, artist Philip Taaffe, magazine editor Sally Singer, poet Charles Bukowski, and numerous musicians, artists, actors and socialites, including Tom Waits, Stanley Kubrick, Jane Fonda, Patti Smith, Frida Kahlo and Edie Sedgwick. Working on Chelsea Girls, a 1966 experimental underground film, Andy Warhol turned the Chelsea hotel into the most famous hotel in the world. “Live glory days, and if you have too many lost days, meet new people, swing around again and almost anything can happen here”, notes Herbert Huncke, a world-famous author. Living and breathing bohemian lifestyle, inspired by the space to create new art forms, the artists immersed themselves in the atmosphere nurturing true avant garde.
©Linda Troeller. Mailboxes, 1999.
Although the hotel is closed for renovations and is currently not accepting long-term residents, the spirits of old inhabitants still live there, making it a living museum full of nostalgic and bittersweet memories, revealing the darker, greedy, punk rock side to art scene. Author and screenwriter David Linter wrote, “Linda Troeller’s work reflects transcendence. Through technology, through self-examination, through sexuality, location and visual dissonance, Linda’s photographic style interweaves both an airy lyricism along with genuine poetic content.”
©Linda Troeller. Irene Tschacbazov, Painter, 1997.
Living Inside the Chelsea Hotel unfolds picturesque narratives in an engaging and captivating way by documenting a historical transition from the most lively and popular venue to the aging, and, eventually dying organism. Just as a human body, that’s a price you have to pay for the accumulation of damage to an organism over time. Nothing lasts forever.
Published by Schiffer, Living Inside the Chelsea Hotel is available in New York at MoMA, Rizzoli, Strand and other book stores.
Text by Kelly Korzun.