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Brenda L Croft (Australia)
A re-enactment of Allan Kaprow's Push and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hofmann 1963 (with thanks to the Allan Kaprow Estate). Coordinated by Lucas Ihlein.
White Man got No Dreaming, drawing by Michael Rakowitz, 2008
The Politics of Urban Space...
What exactly is the mode of existence of social relationships? ...The study of space offers an answer according to which the social relations of production have a social existence to the extent that they have a spatial existence; they project themselves into a space, becoming inscribed there, and in the process producing that space itself – Henri Lefebvre.
There Goes the Neighbourhood is the ironic chorus to the 1992 Body Count song which lamented the invasion of the once poor (and Black) into the neighbourhood of the rich (and white). But an alternative destruction of “The Neighbourhood” can happen when the poor get pushed out of their local community as part of the process of gentrification. This issue is particularly relevant for the suburb of Redfern, an inner city suburb of Sydney which has been home for a large working class and Indigenous community, and which is undergoing a process of rapid development and change.
The Block, Redfern, has been described as the "Black Heart" of Australia and occupies a unqiue place within Sydney's urban landscape as a centre for the Indigenous community. It was the site for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and has been the gathering point for many protests and community events. Just minutes from the second busiest train station in Sdyney are the open camp fires and communal use of public space of the community on The Block. Redfren is also home to a number other non-Indigenous community housing projects such as the Department of Housing buildings (known as the "Suicide Towers") which the government is trying to redevelop. The suburb was once a strong working class neighbourhood and was the starting point for the 1917 general strike for a shorter working week: but in the 1980s the rail yards were closed down and transformed into a new cultural centre (where one of the exhibition venues Performance Space is based). Redfern grabbed headlines in 2004 when riots erupted when a 17 year old Aboriginal boy died after police chased him as he rode his push-bike home. In that same year the Redfern-Waterloo Authority was established - a special government committee to oversee the rapid development and gentrification of the area. Redfern thus involves a complex, contested and controversial overlapping of uses of urban space.
There Goes the Neighborhood is an exhibition, residency, discussion and publishing project for May 2009. The central element of this project will be an exploration of the politics of urban space. It will explore the complex life of cities and how the phenomenon of gentrification is altering the relationship between democracy and demography around the world. While urban change itself is not always a bad thing, gentrification often happens at an accelerated rate, out pricing the lower income and marginalized communities from the neighbourhood and dislocating them from their existing connections to urban space.
As Henri Lefebvre reminds us “the social relations of production have a social existence to the extent that they have a spatial existence; they project themselves into a space, becoming inscribed there, and in the process producing that space itself”. The tussle over space is always one over the social relationships which are generated within the logic of place: revolving around people occupying, owning, seizing, developing, losing or transforming this space.
The project will bring together a smallish group of artists who have worked in various artistic projects which have explored the relationship between community and space and invite them to develop these issues further in the contested local environment of Redfern.
Thanks to: Bec Dean and Performance Space, Lily Shearer and the Redfern Community Centre, Geoff and Lyn Turnbull and REDWatch, all the artists and book contributors, Locksmith Project Space, Astrid L'Orange, Nick Keys, Lucas Ihlein, Serial Space, The Barn, Gary Foley, Tom Sevil and Breakdown Press, all volunteers for the install, Kate Carr, Di Smith, Richard Manner and Tristan Ellis-Windsor and the installation team, everyone who helped with the fundraisers, TextaQueen, Sumugan Sivanesan, all the artists who contributed designs for the T-shirts, the community of Redfern, everyone who bought a T-shirt to support us, Mundine Gym, Andy Nicholson, Lucas Abela, Shane McGrath, Ted, Wasana, Naryma, Nadeen, Marley, Alex, The Situationists and everyone who has helped make this project a reality.
We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Gadigal people.
This project is supported by Performance Space
Performance Space is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory governments, the Australian Government through the Australia Council and the New South Wales Government through Arts NSW.
And the City of Sydney: