As a marketing and museum capital it is obviously as formidable as ever. But as a creative epicenter of new art and art movements, it's been dead for over two decades. Now even New Yorkers starting to notice...
by Ben Davis
This is an article about art and gentrification, the inescapable topic. I have something new to add—that I think we may be coming to the end of a period where being an artist was synonymous with being urban, unless we are willing to fight for it—but before I start it, let me say that I have mixed feelings about my own conclusions.
On the one hand, I like New York, and I think that artists should fight for their place in it. I believe that this would take some serious coalition building and some effort to break out of the shoe-gazing, white-guilt bottleneck where the conversation always gets stuck.
It would not be impossible to do so. If you read Rosalyn Deutsche and Cara Gendel Ryan's “The Fine Art of Gentrification" essay from 1987 about struggles in the East Village, you can see that there was a time when political consciousness was acute enough within the arts community in New York that taking a stand against “artists housing" was actually the commonsense radical thing to do. Artists clearly saw that they were being used by real estate interests to drive out poor communities and communities of color, and put their future with a larger struggle to change urban priorities. Of course, those struggles failed to stop the gentrification of the East Village... More>>