Curated by NoLIta participant Anya Raza
29 may 2014 by art:i:curate team
As part of our 'Curated by NoLIta' project, we met with the curators: the people living and working in the neighborhood.
Ky Katrensky met with Anya Raza, an international organization associate who moved to Manhattan via Pakistan-The Netherlands-France.
KK: Why did you get involved with art:i:curate and this project?
AR: I am an avid art lover, and absolutely adore my neighborhood, therefore I did not think twice about getting involved in a project that melanges the two.
KK: What do you hope to take away from it?
AR: A stronger sense of community.
KK: How do you normally take in art?
AR: I like to be by myself and study the thoughts it invokes.
KK: What does the term "curating" mean to you?
AR: Marionette master.
KK: When did you move to NoLIta?
AR: I have a tendency to choose neighborhoods with a young, edgy vibe, for instance, Oberkampf in Paris and De Pijp in Amsterdam. Having lived in NY before, when I moved back in September '12, I immediately gravitated towards NoLIta/LES.
KK: Where did you live before and where are you from?
AR: I'm half-Pakistani and half-Dutch, so I'm just one of the many mutations in the neighborhood. I moved here about 18 months ago from Lahore, Pakistan.
KK: What do you like best about your part of town and what don't you like at all?
AR: One of the downsides of the neighborhood’s popularity is that rent is increasing dramatically, causing the more unique bars/restaurants to close - ironically, exactly what made the neighborhood stand out in the first place.
KK: What sets NoLIta apart from the surrounding neighborhoods?
AR: I have a perpetual smile when I walk through the neighborhood. There's always something random happening here. The underlying excitement, the laid-back vibe, ubiquitous restaurants and galleries, all under the backdrop of nostalgic NY architecture - it's fairly obvious why the city flocks downtown.
KK: Favorite New York moment?
AR: It had been a long night of dancing, and my friends and I decided to climb onto the rocks of the pier in East River Park/Brooklyn last summer and slowly watch the sun rise and light up one Manhattan neighborhood at a time. Needless to say, I wish I could start every morning that way.
KK: Do you know any of your neighbors?
AR: Many in my immediate vicinity. I already had a number of friends in this neighborhood before moving here, but now even more so!
KK: Do you hope to connect with your neighbors through this project?
KK: Are there any notable neighborhood characters?
AR: There is a gentleman around here who looks like he stepped right off the set of Clockwork Orange, apparently he's an artist who has lived here for decades. His character reminds me of the very amusing rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: always in hurry to get somewhere incredibly important.
KK: Have you heard any stories about the history of NoLIta?
AR: Not enough.
KK: What do you see as the future of NoLIta?
AR: Unfortunately I've read of a number of recent sales, where many of the iconic community structures will be replaced by high-rises. I hope urban planners are conscious enough to maintain our quaint identity while moving forward.
KK: Tell me something about yourself.
AR: I'm someone who truly believes you get what you give. If you exude openness and positivism, it will boomerang right back to you.