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Nude Calendar Featuring Bushwick Loft Residents to Raise Cash for Community

By Serena Dai | May 6, 2015 7:31am
 Resident Christiana Martin shot nude portraits of her friends and neighbors at 345 Eldert St. to document the community.
Resident Christiana Martin shot nude portraits of her friends and neighbors at 345 Eldert St. to document the community.
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Christiana Martin

BUSHWICK —  A Bushwick woman is selling calendars filled with pictures of her nude neighbors in an effort to raise money for their loft building after half of its tenants were evicted several years ago based on safety violations.

Christiana Martin, 35, said the artists living at 345 Eldert St., a converted loft property near the Halsey Street L train, became a tight-knit community through the years — in part because there was little else to do in the neighborhood except hang out and create art with each other.

But in 2011, about half the residents were forced to leave due to a vacate order issued by the FDNY over a host of building violations. Some residents have since been allowed to return, but not all.

Martin, who holds a master's degree in photography, decided to start taking nude portraits of her friends and neighbors for an intimate documentation of the community as it exists, she said.

The resulting calendar, "345 Eldert Residents in the Flesh," features 12 photos of naked loft residents, shot in their homes or nearby neighborhood, she said.

Martin is selling the calendars through IndieGogo, with part of the proceeds going toward a yet-to-be-determined project to benefit the loft building.

"It's a mixture of being a playful, funny thing, and a metaphor of revealing a person in their space," Martin said of the portraits. "If you're naked, you're vulnerable. If you're in your space, you're revealing something about yourself."

One photo shows a man with his robe undone, posing in front of the Halsey Street sign at the subway stop. Another shows a cyclist and his bike outside the loft wearing nothing but a backpack and helmet.

Others feature residents in their homes — like a nude shot of a woman sitting in the middle of a yellow couch with a pillow partially covering her body.

"I'm doing it from a perspective of being close friends with people and caring about people. There's an intimacy that happens where we live," Martin explained. "I don't think it's common. We had epic parties, but it wasn't just about the parties."

Those interested in contributing can choose how much to spend. A donation of $25 buys a spiral-bound calendar for July 2015 through June 2016, with at least $9 from the sale going toward the Eldert community project, which will likely improve the roof space.

Martin, who also plays in several bands and is training to be a professional bridge player, said that the 2011 vacate order was a "pretty traumatic experience" for the community.

Many of the same people continue to reside in the building, where she's lived since 2005, but there's still a sense that the living situation could be temporary despite their efforts.

"Anything can happen," Martin said. "Even though we’re together and have a close community, something could still happen to break us apart."