Art Production, Consumption and the Effects of Gentrification: Cultural Capital as Utility for Gentrification

  • Abstract:

    Some scholars have questioned whether contemporary art is neoliberalism in its most purified form. Whether we like it or not, contemporary art is thoroughly permeated with the processes of gentrification, capital accumulation, and the procedures of divestiture and exploitation. Artists already complicit in the renegotiation of urban meaning for elites, were called upon to enter into social management. Real-estate concessions have long been extended to artists and small non-profit organisations in the hope of improving the attractiveness of the “up-and-coming” neighbourhood. The prominence of art allows museums and artistic/architecture groups, to insert themselves into the conversation on civic trendiness and urban planning. Martha Rosler specifies that artists are hardly unaware of their positioning by urban elites . However, one should ask to what degree artists are aware and/or taking responsibility for the repercussions their actions might have in the global socio-political space and how the changes in this space intrinsically affected the artistic production. This paper aims to contextualise the emergence and development of socially engaged art through the urban phenomenon of gentrification. Gentrification creates a matrix of accumulation and consumption of cultural expression and social control that changes the nature of the city. Additionally, the rising value of art enhances the value of related factors: the urban forms that grow up around it, the activity of doing it, and the status of consuming it . To understand the implications this process has in the artistic arena, this paper will provide an exploration on how the restructuration of the urban space affects the production and consumption of art, and vice versa.