Before the Skyscraper Exhibit at ShuaSpace Explores Shifting Jersey City Landscape

Posted on by Joshua Bisset, ShuaGroup
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Barbara Place by Thuy-Van Vu

Construction has begun on the first of three luxury rental skyscrapers to be built over the next several years in Jersey City’s Journal Square neighborhood. The development, “Journal Squared,” will feature 1,840 luxury rental apartments and 36,000 square feet of retail space in a 54-story tower. The tower currently under construction will rise 54 stories. Advertised amenities include an outdoor pool and a golf simulation room. Studio apartment rentals will begin at $1,800.

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The developer, Kushner Companies, is aggressively marketing to millennials — and particularly to the so-called “creative class.” Jersey City has attempted to draw this demographic across the Hudson with its taxpayer-funded 2014-15 ad campaign, “Make It Yours.” Campaign posters have appeared on NYC subways and in trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods where real estate values have skyrocketed in recent years, driving upwardly mobile residents to look elsewhere for a more palatable balance of living standards and proximity to Manhattan.

A brief look around Journal Square indicates that most people living and working near the Square do not fit this demographic, and it is understatement to say that the majority of current residents will not be able to afford to live in “Journal Squared.”

This is the backdrop of Before the Skyscraper, a new exhibition at ShuaSpace, a street side arts venue in Journal Square. It’s directed by Joshua Bisset and Laura Quattrocchi of Shua Group, a Dodge Foundation grant recipient that supports innovative arts in all media and promotes dialogue about essential local issues.

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Before the Skyscraper is a modest effort to contextualize what is at stake in Jersey City’s confrontation with the aggression that is “Journal Squared.”

Through painting, photography, audio interviews, sculpture, and performance, the exhibit seeks to capture something of the essence and the crucial worth of the “now” as a means of digesting the enormous potential costs and consequences of the skyscrapers.

It is not nostalgic, nor does it pity. It does not deny the reality of change. But it states: these are images and forms of passing; this is evidence of a shifting city, which is not inevitable but chosen. It begs the question: what city are we building and where can we go from here?

The exhibit includes works by: Sam PullinThuy-Van VuSteve SingerMalik Nashad SharpeFranc PalaiaAndrew Emmet+Alec Pomnichowski, Nadia Mohamed+Mathew Galindo+Shaun Persaud, Laura Quattrocchi, and Joshua Bisset.

Before the Skyscraper runs through June 27. Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment.

For more information, or to make an appointment, contact joshua@shuagroup.org and visit the exhibition’s Project Statement and Exhibition photos.

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