23 July 2006

gentrification means forgetting about the people who lived there in the first place

while i really enjoyed all aspects of the art show, i tried not to be critical of the art; instead, appreciated it for what it was. most of the art really grabbed me, or if it didn't do that, it at least entertained and entranced me.

there was one piece of art whose artist's mission pissed me off. the exhibit was of photos being projected in a large scale onto the building next door. the theme was "yearbook" so there was a background in the photos (of a particular type of crushed fabric, something that i've never seen in any yearbook photos) and people appeared in sometimes yearbook poses, other times, silly poses. it didn't make me think of the yearbooks, actually. but anyway, i enjoyed the art for what it was.

the artist's statement really pissed me off. she said she's lived in bushwick since 2005 (so at the most, a year and a half) and she's been amazed at the creative changes in the neighborhood and the vibrancy of the artists since she's moved there and she used her yearbook project to capture these artists. (the east w'burg hood is somewhere i never would have gone six years ago; i went three years ago and it still wasn't the nicest, but slowly...) her tone in her statement irritated me. i dated a guy from bushwick (who was not white, like most of the people in his hood) and he was constantly complaining about what a terrible neighborhood it was, how it sucked everyone under, how he never wanted me to visit him there, etc. and this woman is glorifying the gentrification, the raising of the rents, and ignoring the people that live there--people that are traditionally people of colour while her yearbook photo project captured mostly white people. you have to acknowledge where you are. it's like i can't talk about my hood-- greenpoint-- without acknowledging the strong polish presence. my neighborhood has slowly become more gentrified since i first moved here six years ago and i like some of the things that this has brought--more young people, i have friends in the hood, more cafes, bars, restaurants, etc.--but i acknowledge the changes.

you have to acknowledge the creativity that already exists, the history, when you invoke something as powerful as a neighborhood. just becuase they aren't at the same studio as you or the same bars, doesn't mean they don't exist.

1 comment:

V said...

Gentrification: another thing Inga Muscio talks about in AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A BLUE-EYED DEVIL. Too much to quote here, so read it yrself! BUT--this woman's ignorance about this issue, which happens all over the US, could have come straight from the book, it is so similar to what Inga says in it.