The Prince George Hotel: Self-Portraits
by Flynn Larsen
In this project I worked with 11 different tenants at the Prince George Hotel and at the Times Square Hotel, both in New York City. These places are former welfare hotels (flophouses) that have been converted by an organization called Common Ground Community, http://www.commonground.org/, into humane and affordable housing for a wide range of low income New Yorkers. I was originally attracted to these hotels because of the variety of tenants living there – formerly homeless people, and people who had been sidelined by illnesses like AIDS or psychological disorders, as well as artists, musicians, actors, writers, and many others. I was also interested in how people depend on physical space for a sense of psychological well being and I wanted to show how these people made their small, one-room apartments their own. I wanted to show each person in their natural habitat, surrounded by the objects important to them.
I had already done a project (also a Creative Visions venture) where I did “collaborative self-portraits” with school children in Los Angeles and I decided to take a similar approach here. I helped with the composition of each shot, but the subjects were the ones clicking the shutter.
In the end I don’t know if I managed to get at those big questions about physical space and how it affects psychological space, but I did come away with some strong portraits which, hopefully, will provide a lasting visual record of my interaction with some of the exceptional people I encountered during this project.
Some of the photographs are still on display at the Times Square Hotel for an indefinite time.
Flynn Larsen is a photographer, based in New York, who shoots portraiture, lifestyle, and documentary work for a range of editorial and advertising clients. She is currently pursuing a project with radio/audio producer Blue Chevigny in which they will undertake a photographic and audio journey across the United States via an expanding network of interpersonal connections. This exhibit was funded by the Creative Visions Foundation, http://www.creativevisions.org. You can contact Flynn at email@example.com.