Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland welcomes Stacy Wakefield and Ash Thayer to the store to discuss and sign their new books, The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory and Kill City on Thursday, May 21st at 6:30 pm.
The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory tells the story of Sid, a young woman who gets swept up in the 1990s squatting movement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, an area that continues to deal with issues of gentrification today. Stacy Wakefield's own experiences add a lot of legitimacy to the novel—she herself squatted in both New York City and Europe in the '80s and '90s, and the novel draws heavily from her own experiences and observations. She is probably best known for her seminal nonfiction book and underground classic Not For Rent, a compilation of interviews with women she met while living in squats—one of whom eventually became the basis for the character of Sid in The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory.
Ash Thayer's Kill City perfectly complements the themes of Stacy's novel. The book is a compilation of photographs she took while she, too, squatted in New York City in the 1990s. After being kicked out of her apartment in Brooklyn in 1992, and unable to afford rent anywhere near her school, young art student Ash Thayer found herself with few options. Luckily she was welcomed as a guest into See Skwat.
New York City in the '90s saw the streets of the Lower East Side overun with derelict buildings, junkies huddled in dark corners, and dealers packing guns. People in desperate need of housing, worn down from waiting for years in line on the low-income housing lists, had been moving in and fixing up city-abandoned buildings since the mid-80s in the LES.
Squatters took over entire buildings, but these structures were barely habitable. They were overrun with vermin, lacking plumbing, electricity, and even walls, floors, and a roof. Punks and outcasts joined the squatter movement and tackled an epic rebuilding project to create homes for themselves.
The squatters were forced to be secretive and exclusive as a result of their poor legal standing in the buildings. Few outsiders were welcome and fewer photographers or journalists. Thayer's camera accompanied her everywhere as she lived at the squats and worked alongside other residents. Ash observed them training each other in these necessary crafts and finding much of their materials in the overflowing bounty that is New York City's refuse and trash. The trust earned from her subjects was unique and her access intimate.
Stacy Wakefield is the author of the underground classic Not for Rent. She is the cocreator, along with Nick Zinner of the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs and writer Zachary Lipez, of the photo/essay book Please Take Me Off the Guest List.
Ash Thayer is a photographer and multimedia visual artist based in Los Angeles. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from The School of Visual Arts, and a Masters of Fine Art from Columbia University in New York. Thayer has exhibited her work at numerous galleries and venues including The Proposition Gallery in New York, the Berlin Art Fair, and The Chicago Art Institute. She has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University and Columbia University. She studied acting and directing at the Terry Schreiber Studio in New York, and has performed both on stage and in film.