About Brick Lane – upcoming exhibition

Brick Lane and the surrounding area have long been subject to gentrification. “Cultural analyses of gentrification identified the individual artist as an important agent in the initiation of the gentrification process...”[1] Considering that “gentrification can…be fostered and exploited for questionable ends…[2] I wanted to examine theimpact of artists and the role I play in gentrifying an area, namely Brick Lane.

To do this I initially considered interpreting data regarding the different people settling in the area of Brick Lane. I posited that different colours and quantities of colour could represent different groups of people. My hope being that the prevailing colour would represent the gentrifying individuals.

Anticipating ways of representing my idea I used 4 maps of the radius of the Brick Lane area from different points in history. Different colour inks represent the density of different populations. Unexpectedly, this imagery led me to draw visual parallels between “gentrifiers” of Brick Lane with bacteria or virus cultures in Petri dishes.

Whilst I found the aesthetic quality of these research images pleasing, it felt impersonal. My real interest in the gentrification of the area lay in considering myself as an agent of gentrification. Looking at the similarities between bacteria and the way in which gentrification takes place offered me a different foundation from which to work. Could I regard the impact of artists (and by extension, myself) on the area as akin to bacteria multiplying and homogenising a specific location? Could I collect my own ‘artist’ bacteria to literally apply to the location?

My recent investigations have led me to collect samples of bacteria from my most used artistic equipment in order to develop a final response to this exhibition. Whilst I am unclear as to what this response may be, it is my hope that I can reconcile the possible negative impact on the area I may contribute as an artist, against the positive impact that my artwork could have.

 

[1] Art, Gentrification and Regeneration – From Artist as Pioneer to Public Arts. European Journal of Housing Policies Vol.5, No 1, 39 – 58, April 2005. Stuart Cameron and Jon Coaffee, Global Urban Research Unit, University of Newcastle, UK.

 

[2] Regenerating London: gentrification happens. Dave Hill’s London Blog. Sunday 31 March 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/davehillblog/2013/mar/31/regenerating-london-gentrification-happens

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