“No Bills,” an audio project by Nick Yulman with nbART
September 3, 2011, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Art, New York City, Projects | Tags: , ,

One of the India Street murals by a former guest on Citywide, Skewville

I found myself in the neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn for the first time just a couple of hours after I spoke with Katherine Denny of the North Brooklyn Art Coalition (nbART) and sound artist Nick Yulman. They weren’t trying to, but they convinced me to visit. It felt like a different world.  It is an area whose skeleton of bygone warehouses and factories has been rendered nearly invisible behind a layer of colorful artwork spread across the buildings which now house wine and cheese shops instead of assembly lines. Not many years ago, the region that can be called North Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint) was mired in the pollution and sewage it took on from the rest of the city. Bad air and dubious transportation kept especially Greenpoint out of many New Yorkers’ awareness. Over the past decades though, citizens and organizations such as nbART have worked together to make the area the opposite of what it once was by fighting for more parks and insisting that the aesthetic of  the neighborhood reflect the talents and interests of the people who live there.

Works such as Nick Yulman’s “No Bills” and the murals on India st. draw more people into the area and clue the city government into the depth of life that takes place there. Nick’s strategy in illustrating this is to present true stories told by residents embedded in the actual environment. This is accomplished by placing sound recordings behind the wooden surfaces that fence off particular construction sites so that while walking by physical evidence of a changing neighborhood, the passerby becomes the audience. These audio installations are placed at locations selected for their history such as the McCarren Park pool which is being re-constructed after providing nothing to the neighborhood other than a boarded up hole in the ground for the past two and a half decades.

An image of the sound installation at the McCarren Park pool

These are neighborhoods that are known for the creative genius that comes out of them and it is incredible the progress they have made in creating more comfortable, efficient, and sustainable lives for their residents over the past 20 years. What is more incredible is that it is very much only the beginning and coalitions such as nbART are constantly putting forth new efforts to create more parks, generate more income for the community, and make Brooklyn a more beautiful place to live.

A view of the Manhattan skyline behind a rooftop farm in Greenpoint

To see a map of “No Bills” installations, visit the website.

To know more about nbART and the many projects they do, click here.

What you should really do is listen to the interview and see what they have to say. For that, press play-


Sorry for some of the crummy audio.

Lucas Green


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