Miles Ladin's blog

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Service Entrance Series


In 2001, I photographed the service entrances of some of New York City’s most elite residential apartment buildings. The maids, movers, deliverymen, and other workers who service these residences use these entrances. Focusing primarily on buildings located in the city’s Upper East Side, I limited the scope to include two of the wealthiest postal codes in the country, 10021 & 10022. My initial interest in the service entrances was due to my childhood memories of playing in and often trespassing through the service entrances surrounding my family’s apartment on Beekman Place, in New York City.

As I started to photograph these entrances and spaces, I became interested in both the formal and associative qualities of the architecture. Visually the spaces include doorways, fencing, barbed wire, signage, and security devices. Psychologically the entrances triggered in my mind the sense of the forbidden, the other (i.e. blue collar), and the hidden. Intellectually I was interested by the semiotics built into the architecture (consciously or not) of these spaces that are particular to New York City. The architecture subjugates class distinctions in a variety of ways including through the design, industrial materials, and lighting. Although these entrances do indeed have a utilitarian purpose they sharply contrast the esthetics found both in the lobbies and the canopied doorways from which that the tenants enter and exit.

These entrances, like the maids and workmen who use them, are kept hidden, downtrodden and at a distance, thereby not intruding on the idyll of affluence. These are entrances that most people (including the buildings' residences) don't really notice, much like the individuals that use them. They are invisible yet they are intrinsic to the structure.



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