Dear Alex,

I must apologize that I haven’t written for the past few months. It wasn’t from a lack of interest or laziness, but for a much more superficial reason - too much work. About 6 months ago I came across an unusual discovery, which I think you might find interesting…

It all began when our department was notified about an application for the renovation of a non-residential space on White Street in Manhattan. At first it just seemed to be routine and boring work – meaning spending several hours in the archives, approving the application, supervising the reconstruction, and so forth.  For this reason, everyone at the office tried to pretend like it didn’t exist; everyday it was passed from one desk to another, until one of us would be forced by external circumstances to finally take the matter up. In the end, that person was me, and for the simple reason that I played the first hand.

I began by trying to verify the history of the space in the archives, where most of the buildings from this part of town are well documented. I was a bit surprised to find only scans of the original building plans, but no records whatsoever of any later renovations. In this case, there was nothing else I could do but to contact the applicant (in this case the owner) and request a tour of the building.

I found the whole space completely full of row upon row of stored boxes and crates, between which it was possible to move freely.  While we toured the building, the owner told me that his family had been using the place for storage for over the past 200 years. The owner didn’t know much more about the building’s past than I had managed to learn from the archives – in the mid 19th century, it had housed the sales and shipping department of a textile factory. Then there was a gap of over a hundred years. New York’s textile industry went bust in the mid 20th century and the family of the current owner bought the building, with all its spaces, at the end of the 21st century. I began to realize that if I wanted to find any physical records – which I needed in order to document the missing hundred years – I would find them stored somewhere in here. This was also confirmed by some of the materials in the interior, which clearly dated from the early 21st century. I then informed the owner that I would have to indefinitely suspend the renovation approval proceedings while we conducted an archaeological survey over the next few months. You can imagine his reaction! I sometimes think that… but, I am just getting off the subject.

For the next five whole months my colleagues and I took things out of the space and classified them into groups according to their age. We didn’t find much of great interest - with the exception of several dozen boxes dating from the first half of the 21st century, containing the full documentation of a non-profit exhibition space that had operated in the building from 1973 to 2037.  

This find has exceeded all my expectations, as never ever before – and I’m sure you’ll second me here – had we come across such a legacy of documentation about this kind of an exhibition space, which was so typical in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Ever since we finished documenting the space and archiving all the materials, I have been working on putting together a final report – with little result as yet. The physical lay-out of the exhibition space and its production program (as recorded in the preserved documentation) does not much differ, in my view, from that of any contemporary commercial gallery or private exhibition center, of which in Manhattan there are several thousands. The functions of the individual rooms – for presentation, administration, archival - as well as the interior colors and remnants of the original lighting, for example, all bear witness to this. The art artifacts, which were presented here, also correspond to the canon of that age.

Alex, I’d like to meet with you in order to go over a few – in my view incomprehensible - details, without which I won't be able to answer the fundamental question: What was the purpose of this space?

I’m sure that my announcement of this discovery has piqued your interest, to say the least, and I look forward meeting you soon.

Best regards,