Viktoria Vona

Art & Gentrification

Most definitions of gentrification agree that a common element of all its manifestations is some sort of change. The nature of this change, however is debated. Conceptualisations of gentrification involve seeing it as connected to changes in the housing market and to the influx of a ‘new class’ - the middle class or a particular section thereof. The aspects of gentrification are manifold; amongst other things it is linked to class, gender, race, consumption, social polarisation, housing and governance practices in global cities. It has been also argued that gentrification is strongly connected to de-industrialisation and the shift form manufacturing to the service sector. Gentrification has been referred to as ‘regeneration’, revitalization’, ‘social upgrading’, ‘urban renaissance‘ and ‘social preservation’ among other things. These alternative interpretations and (in some cases) euphemisms reflect subjective opinions and various political agendas.

Artists as a group have been linked to kickstarting gentrification in areas of previous neglect. However, processes of gentrification have been also documented to force out the original artists groups as well. Artists realise the irony of their role and their situation. As such, they have long participated in attempts of resisting or stalling gentrification. The main aim of my research is to assess the effectiveness of artists and their work in contesting gentrification both in its early and maturing stages.