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Celebrating Jane Jacobs, James Gulliver Hancock, 2016Celebrating Jane Jacobs, James Gulliver Hancock, 2016

Celebrating Jane Jacobs, James Gulliver Hancock, 2016

Creative placemaking, like its predecessors, new public art and collaborative art, is the soft power weapon of choice for many property developers and councils.  Artists are increasingly complicit: willingly enlisted as the pioneers, the missionaries and the “foot soldiers” of gentrification; the harbingers of redundancy, displacement, social cleansing, colonialism and racism.  Their aesthetic and participatory practices celebrate the empty and falsely unifying notions of “people,” “place”, “community” and “the public”, reinforcing the depoliticising functionalism prescribed by the vested interests of corporate, financial and state power.  Placemaking can be conceived of as the ideology of domination “creatively” played out in “public spaces”: a conceit that ignores Lefebvre’s assertion that space is socially produced, contested and conflictual to neutralise existing people and communities before excluding them.  Placemaking, I argue, replaces socially produced experiences of the city and home with a homogenous, compliant and falsely neutral notion of place as a middle-class ideal – the urban pastoral.

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The High Line, New York CityThe High Line, New York City

The High Line, New York City

0 thoughts on “Creative Placemaking, Or a Violently Anti-Working-Class Vision of the Urban Pastoral

  1. Natasha Boardman-Steer says:

    I disagree – Improving a space with the community consulted and involved makes them feel better about where they live. When done correctly and in collaboration with the community the working class feel better about where they live, improve skills, make new connections, their wellbeing is increased and they feel more involved in their community. I do agree however that when a local authority commissions an artist/designer from outside the area (or sometimes even inside) who knows nothing about the community and does not engage with it yet responds and complies with the authority – that this is when issues begin and the community will reject the changes made.

  2. In reply to the comment below:
    "Improving a space with the community consulted and involved makes them feel better about where they live"
    This never happens. Consultations are a sham, accepted by Sadiq Khan and the GLA without question, even regurgitating figures on social cleansing, years before planning applications were even filed, as in Chrisp Street Market.
    Why does nobody in authority ever smell the BS and listen to our communities?
    Because they have mortgaged our social housing to banks and property developers, with Universities colonising communities where social housing should be built, and out of touch academics like Michael Edward of UCL, an old man so out of touch with the reality of our communities, his sense of "social justice" is re-creating communities in the image of the rich, privileged elite. Or Anna Minton, an upper-middle class "academic" (sic) at the University of East London, writes a paper about Balfron Tower, yet has failed to do any original research at all, preferring to rip her work off from activists on the ground, without referencing them, who are actually working with our communities, rather than supplying astroturf to protect and defend the developers, politicians and social cleansers who are dismantling social housing for banks and property developers.
    All my working class friends were crying out for Uni’s to come into our communities and steal everything we have.
    Honest, they put all their issues surrounding poverty, insecurity and the housing association that was given all the social housing in Poplar free of charge, gentrifying their estate where homes now cost in excess of £500 per week for homes that were built with public money as social housing, and then stolen by politicians desperate to dismantle the welfare state that we created and funded.
    So, if you still think that these consultations were genuine, you clearly do not understand the complexity of what is going on.

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