Hotel Wars was conceived by Carina Kaufman and Jason Eppink at Flux in response to the hotel boom in Long Island City. In the past decade, dozens of hotels have sprung up alongside the Flux Factory building and more than twenty hotels are set to break ground. The hotel boom, the result of a 2008 rezoning that allowed for new developments in Dutch Kills’ mixed-use industrial areas, has quickly changed the neighborhood into a shifting environment of passing visitors. To playfully respond to these rapid changes and their implications, Flux Factory is posting three teams of highly collaborative artists, game designers, urban theorists, and performers at hotels within a one-block radius of Flux for a month-long Olympic-style competition.
Here is how it works: Each week, teams receive a prompt that provokes questions about how hotels serve an existing neighborhood, the effects of tourism, and the communities the industry creates and/or displaces. We have seven days to engage with tourists, hotel employees, neighbors, and local business owners and craft our response using a variety of media. At the end of each week, works will be unveiled at a series of elaborate awards ceremonies, where Long Island City community stakeholders will award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes.
I am on a team with Aliya Bonar and Will Owen, two incredible artists. We are half way through the competition and we posted a win in the first week and a second place the second week. We have two weeks to respond to the last prompt. We are one of three teams assigned to a hotel in the Long Island City area, and our hotel is Home 2 Suites, a Hilton brand hotel.
For the first week’s challenge, we were asked to create an oral history of the hotel site. We interviewed a hotel employee, a guest and the owner of the local bodega and from this material created a tourist style pamphlet to be distributed at the hotel in their “Things To Do” rack.
The second week, we were prompted to stage an event that brought togehter hotel guests with the local economy. we staged a bodega happy hour. The previous week, Miguel from the bodega commented that while the hotels brought jobs to the area, the guests, not being from New York, did not think to come into his business. We decided to take the bodega to the lobby and staged a happy hour to hand out free bodgea snacks and chat up the neighborhood with hotel guests.
We are gearing up for our final challenge, which is to create a proposal to greater integrate the hotel with the existing neighborhood. Our final work will be presented on November 1st at Flux at 4pm!