Monica Strømdahl earned a BA in Photography at a Fine Arts programme at a university in southern England. Reflecting her compelling wanderlust, all of her projects at university were from areas far from her own point of origin.
“I repeatedly tested what I could accomplish by myself, armed simply with a camera in unknown territory. The trust I could earn in the shortest possible time. The personalities and groups I could get close to”, writes Strøm
dahl in her presentation.
She has worked as a freelance photographer in Oslo for eight years. In 2005, by coincidence, she discovered a unique hotel in Brooklyn, just one subway stop from Manhattan. It had many permanent residents, some of whom had lived there for several years. In teeny little enclosures with partitions between them, chicken wire as a ceiling and just enough room for a bed. Doors with padlocks. No windows. Stale air. Her first impression of the Glenwood Hotel was that it was a scary, dirty and dangerous place. There was a baseball game blaring on the blurry TV screen in the lobby. The bed was lumpy, the bed linen stained. After a few hours, there were drugs, prostitution. Some nights were filled with arguments, threats and violence. The environment seemed chaotic and dangerous. The people aggressive and surly. However, as time passed, the residents got used to Monica, and she got used to them.
repeatedly tested what I could accomplish by myself, armed simply with a camera in unknown territory. The trust I could earn in the shortest possible time. The personalities and groups I could get close to.”
Gentrification killed Glenwood. The banks came first, then the galleries and the hipsters.
In 2010, the hotel was sold and the residents were reluctantly evicted and spread to the winds. Instead, the developers opened a trendy hotel for European tourists. The Glenwood was the last of its kind in New York. There are, however, other flop houses all across the US. However, their stories are fading away rapidly. Monica Strømdahl wants to patronise these hotels. To document the lives lived there, before they disappear. The hotels form her framework, but it is the people and their everyday lives that form her content.
“I always felt that the story of the Glenwood Hotel was larger and more important than my talent as a photographer. I have longed to go back to take a larger, more comprehensive look at this very special way of life. I have had this project in my mind and in my heart for about five years. This is an important story. If I could only tell one story for the rest of my life, this would be the one”, maintains Monica Strømdahl.