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Derelict Naval hospital becomes metaphor in NYC art installation

NEW YORK (AP)  A derelict Naval hospital that treated soldiers from the Civil War through World War II is the site of an art installation that deals with the wounds of war and the human power of healing.

Conceptual artist Bettina WitteVeen said it took five years to secure the Brooklyn Navy Yard site for her "When We Were Soldiers ... once and young" exhibition, which opens Saturday.

"I basically perceive the building and my artwork as one," she said.

It is the first time an artist has been allowed to use the building, preserved as a time capsule of another era and boarded up for decades. The Navy Yard, which served as a major military shipbuilding site for more than 200 years, was decommissioned in 1966. The 300-acre campus has evolved into a bustling urban industrial park. Its largest tenant, Steiner Studios of film and television, plans to restore the hospital over the next several years and turn it into a major media-technology center along with other nearby historic buildings.

"The public has never had a chance to see the beauty of this building," said Doug Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios. "The building is so integral to her art. ... I can't distinguish between the two."

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