Oriana Leckert has a ready and nicely alliterative answer for us when we ask her to explain to us what Brooklyn Spaces, the website that she founded in 2011, is all about. “It’s a compendium of culture and creativity. Although”—she laughs—“then people always ask what a compendium is.”
Brooklyn Spaces is a place to go to find out anything and everything that’s happening in the Brooklyn DIY/arts/performance/music/creative scene, all written up and photographed by Leckert. It’s a concise yet comprehensive guide to everything creative that’s happening in Brooklyn right now. “The project has really evolved,” Leckert tells us. “The origin story goes that I’ve been living in Brooklyn for years, and I do things, and I’m always trying to find interesting things to do, and so in one weekend I went to the House of Yes, the Bushwick Trailer Park and the 123 Community Center, which has since closed, but it was like an anarchist community space for the youth in Bed-Stuy, and they did a lot of bicycle repair. But so I went to a lot of spaces and I just thought, ‘It’s so cool here. Everything in Brooklyn is so amazing!” And then shortly thereafter I heard how the first House of Yes had burned down, the anarchist community center got evicted, and the Bushwick Trailer Park was being really intensely harassed by the city, and they also wound up getting evicted. And I just wound up thinking how there’s all these different moments in time, like the East Village in the 60s and SoHo in the 70s or Williamsburg in the 90s, and how when someone comes up with some new photos that haven’t been seen, everybody freaks out because it’s a revelation, and I feel like, it’s a little corny, but we’re kind of living through one of those moments in Brooklyn right now, because the things that are happening are really interesting and people will want to know in five years or 10 years what it was actually like.”
And thus a website was born. A writer herself (Leckert’s day job is in publishing), she knew that she was uniquely suited to compile these profiles, and says, “I think the people who drive the creative class are bent on creating, and they’re not really worried about fire codes and things like that, and that’s why the spaces are so fleeting. All of a sudden the space is gone, and you’ve missed it. And then it’s also a way to promote what these people are doing. Because these things are amazing. So the way that I’ve chosen to give back to the community that has made this a place that I want to be is to profile the people and places who make it so amazing.” And while the Brooklyn creative scene sometimes comes under attack for being a victim of its own success, Leckert’s enthusiasm for the artists here is sincere and inspiring. And so to any critics of either Brooklyn the place or “Brooklyn” the idea, Leckert says, “I do my best to not buy into or promote the ridiculous about it, and I try to focus on the individuals and the groups that are doing amazing work because I do think that there’s absolutely value in what artists do.
“We all live here because we’re striving for something, and we’re gaining something from being here.” And Leckert is here to document all the living and striving and creating in one place, so that even when this time in history disappears, we’ll all be able to look back and know that it happened.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen
Photo by Austin McAllister