Gentrification: The Impact of the Artist

“The role of art and the artist has played a part in both of the main long-established theories of gentrification, looking respectively at ‘culture’ and ‘capital’ as key drivers. Cultural analyses of gentrification have identified the individual artist as an important agent in the initiation of gentrification processes in old working-class neighbourhoods. Alternative theorizations have recognized a second stage where capital follows the artist into gentrified localities, commodifying its cultural assets and displacing original artists/gentrifiers.”[1]

The paradox of artist led gentrification is an ironic one for artists. Our “refusal of spaces colonised by commerce and the state” often makes the spaces we choose to inhabit vulnerable and valuable to those who wish to exploit the cultural capital we produce in such environments.

The central theme I have been exploring in response to the title of this exhibition About Brick Lane has been: can the negative associations of gentrification wholly negate the positive impact of culture?

In this case I am quite literally examining the impact of my own personal cultures on the area of Brick Lane.

[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.

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