A Note to Our Readersby Phong Bui
When the artist Shoja Azari visited the Brooklyn Rail’s headquarters and my studio in Greenpoint this past August, right after a flash flood claimed 20 percent of my recent work, he half-jokingly suggested that I call my forthcoming exhibition After the Flood. How poignant and prophetic. Work According to the Rail, Part I: After the Flood opened at Showroom Gallery on Sunday evening, October 29, the night before Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. Instead of postponing, we rescheduled the opening at the last minute to accommodate the imminent suspension of all public transit; poet Bob Holman called this “such a New Yorker thing to do.”
The next night Sandy’s assault destroyed the bulk of my work from the last 25 years, as well as most of the Rail’s selected archives. The water in our studio/storage space surged over six feet; many of our neighbors also experienced devastating losses to both their artwork and livelihood. New York’s atmosphere is somber right now. We at the Rail wish to commemorate those who have lost their lives and send our heartfelt condolences to all those who have suffered in the wake of the storm. On a personal note, I am grateful to our remarkable staff for their heroic effort during a difficult time. I also want to express deep gratitude to our neighbors Anibal Farran, Matthew Williams, Katherine Fitch, Marion LeCognic, Joe Mitner, and Stella Lee Prowse, whose amazing support helped to salvage some of the work.
New Yorkers weathered 9/11, and I myself survived the war and labor camp in Vietnam. I believe we will all rise above this time with a greater purpose in life and art.