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"There once was a time when societies believed that the erection of architecture was a violation of the Earth. In Architecture and Violence, author Bechir Kenzari describes the millennia-old practice of construction rites, which demanded that an architect spill blood on his building’s foundation stone as a sacrifice for the privatization of land that once belonged to no one and to all. Our national culture does not bestow land with such dignity. Instead, private ownership is at the core of our values." [...]
Zombifying Neighborhoods: The Cultural Ramifications of Gentrification
By Blights Out
August 23, 2017
“On the first of this month, 20 blocks from a “May Day Anti-Fascist Karaoke and Barbecue” just then coalescing around New Orleans’ soon-to-be-removed monument to Jefferson Davis, a group of artists and affordable housing advocates took on what they see as a subtler manifestation of white supremacy: the auction....
If the buying and selling of property is a qualification of citizenship, then the auction of real estate is the process by which citizenship and the freedoms and limitations thereof are established, maintained and revoked. Through the dehumanization of human-turned-property, a U.S. citizen with rights and ‘freedoms’ is born. This dehumanization is normalized through the spectacle of the auction.” [...]
Artist David Rohn has settled in and been priced out of 10 neighborhoods on two continents, from New York to Paris to Miami. In Miami, he now has a studio in Little River, the next “hot” neighborhood, and Rohn wishes it would cool down.
“When we moved to Little River, the last thing we wanted was for it to be Wynwood-ized,” says Rohn. “It used to take a long time to go from artist studio to artist bar to gallery. These cycles have gotten faster and faster, and now it’s a formula. Before Little River could be an arts neighborhood ... these developers have already moved in and swept up everything. [...]
Which Miami neighborhood will be the next to be art washed?
By Jordan Levin
The Miami Herald
October 24, 2016
Blighted housing is a conundrum: an old house that some see as an eyesore might be someone else's beloved home. Gentrification and high insurance and tax rates eliminated most of the local low-cost rentals that were available before Hurricane Katrina, even though higher values saved some great old homes from demolition by neglect. For low-income communities, the problem is especially dire. Blights Out, an organization devoted to neighborhood self-determination, staged this exhibition at Antenna Gallery, curated by Carl Joe Williams, as a catalyst for exploring blight from new social and artistic perspectives. [...]
Review: Blights Out
Antenna Gallery's mixed media group exhibit inspired by blight
By D. Eric Bookhardt
June 20, 2016
A conversation between Rosemary Reyes and the core collaborators of Blights Out gives us an opportunity to reflect on the ways projects evolve and take shape.
I first met with New York-based artist Lisa Sigal, local artist Carl Joe Williams, and arts worker/activist Imani Jacqueline Brown in the fall of 2014, shortly after the inception of Blights Out during the citywide art exhibition “Prospect.3: Notes for Now.” A project that prioritizes transparency, interdisciplinary collaboration, community involvement, and creativity, Blights Out looks to ignite conversations around the rapid economic development in New Orleans by “performing architecture” and developing strategies to create permanently affordable housing. [...]
What happens when activists, architects and artists team up to change their city?
City zoning that supports fair housing is boring. Very few people want to jump into a casual conversation about the best way to manage blight or reduce verbal street harassment. Unless you’re with friends, it’s next to impossible for a discussion about Confederate monuments or race and policing to become anything but inflammatory. (If you need evidence of that, refer to the comments section below any online article attempting to deal with those topics.) Yet these issues of urban justice can’t be left to trolls, or even politicians, to hash out — not if we want to see progress in our cities. Change will only come as a result of public awareness, dialogue and, ultimately, political pressure.
So, the question becomes a simple one: How do we get people to pay attention? [...]
A decade after Hurricane Katrina threatened the very existence of New Orleans, a vibrant arts community is restoring the fabric of this indelibly creative city—and recasting its future.
By the time the Mississippi River reaches New Orleans, it bears water that has passed through 31 states and two Canadian provinces. A few miles south of the city, after a three-month, 2,300-mile journey from Minnesota, the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico, depositing the rich sediment that makes the swampy land of the Delta among the most verdant and fertile in the nation. This geological truth is one that Susan Gisleson, co-founder of the non-profit Press Street, endows with metaphorical significance. [...]