In September 2006, I spent 10 days shooting the interior of legendary NYC rock club CBGB. Six weeks later the club closed its doors forever, and the fabled walls and stage were dismantled. A year after that, as former owner Hilly Kristal succumbed to cancer, a high-end clothing store negotiated to take over the space.
The club had been a favorite venue for countless rock and punk acts, but for those few days my experience of the club was the exact opposite of most people’s. I came to look forward to my visits as a time of peaceful solitude. I arrived each morning at 11:00 with my tripod and camera, greeted Hilly at his desk, and then passed into a silent and empty club. During the following three to five hours of shooting, I rarely saw another human. The club was so dark, even during the day, that I had to carry a flashlight. After framing each shot, I took five to seven bracketed exposures, with each exposure lasting as long as 30 seconds, and I ended up with more than 1800 individual frames.
And that’s how I came to spend hour after hour sitting stock still in CBGB, alone in the dark among the empty beer bottles and broken guitar strings and abandoned drum sticks, waiting in the silence for the shutter to close.
- Joseph O. Holmes