There Goes The Neighbourhood:
Co-curator with Zanny Begg
There Goes The Neighbourhood was a Performance Space residency in November 2008 at the Redfern Community Centre and an exhibition and publishing project at the Performance Space, Sydney, May 2009.
The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights - David Harvey, The Right to the City
There Goes the Neighbourhood was 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 unique place within Sydney's urban landscape as a centre for the Indigenous community. 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 have now been transformed into a new cultural centre, CarriageWorks. Redfern grabbed headlines in 2004 after riots erupted when a 17 year old Aboriginal boy died as he was chased by police cars on his push-bike. 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 use of urban space.
There Goes the Neighborhood begins with a close study of Redfern before expanding into international examples to provide a detailed exploration of how the phenomenon of gentrification is altering the relationship between democracy and demography around the world. This book has been published in tandem with an exhibition of the same name and many of the contributions come from participating artists in the exhibition:
Brenda L. Croft, Daniel Boyd, Lisa Kelly, SquatSpace, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, Evil Brothers, You Are Here (Australia), Michael Rakowitz (USA), Jakob Jakobsen (Denmark), 16beaver (USA), Miklos Erhardt and Little Warsaw (Hungary), Temporary Services (USA), Bijari (Brazil) and at a satellite venue, Locksmith Gallery, co-ordinated by Lucas Ihlein a re-enactment of Allan Kaprow's Push and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hofmann (with thanks to the Allan Kaprow Estate).
Download a pdf of the book here
Reviews of There Goes The Neighbourhood
by Reuben Keehan in Eyeline Magazine here
Jacqueline Millner in Realtime here
More information on the project:
If You See Something, Say Something
Co-curator with Zanny Begg
Exhibition, discussion and publishing project, Mori Gallery and Gallery 4A, Sydney, 2007
Artists: Dmitry Vilenksy/Chto Delat? (Russia) Contra Filé (Brazil) Grupo Etcétera (Argentina) Oliver Ressler (Austria) & Dario Azzellini (Italy) Taring Padi ( Indonesia) Richard DeDomenici (UK)Al Fadhil (Iraq) Hito Steyerl (Germany) Arlene TextaQueen, David Griggs, pvi collective, SquatSpace, Daniel Boyd,Astra Howard, Keg de Souza & Zanny Begg (Australia), 2007.
“If you see something, say something,” was pasted on bus shelters and train stations around the world in the wake of the 9/11 bombings asking us to view those around us with fear and suspicion. But do we see this government sponsored vision of the world or do these advertisements move us to say something very different? In the state of exception produced by the war on terror we are asked to accept a consensual vision of fear, scapegoating and state sponsored violence. Yet many are moved to dissent from this.
Dissensus can mean widespread disagreement, a failure to reach consensus or a consensus only among those who dissent. Jacques Ranciere uses the term to describe rare moments of genuine democracy whereby new social actors force themselves into the political landscape demanding that their voices, which hitherto have been silent, are finally heard. While what we consider politics is often a ritualised confrontation between opposing parties, armies, or forces, with a known set of protocols on how this resolution will play out, a moment of dissensus allows a reconfiguration of how we understand the notion of politics itself by opening up pre-existing assumptions of social agency.
If you see something, say something was a discussion, exhibition and publishing project in Sydney in January/February 2007. Principally this revolved around an exhibition involving a small number of international and Australian artists whose work has explored aspects of dissensus – by either questioning prevailing notions of consensus or by exploring new possibilities of social agency. Rather than being an exhibition of political art this exhibition questioned how we actually understand the connections between politics and aesthetics. The exhibition was complemented by workshops and a free newspaper.
Of particular interest was the role of the artist as a researcher. In Argentina during the crisis and uprising of 2001 the term “militant researcher” was popularly used to describe an engaged approach to seeking an understanding of reality. As the research group Colectivo Situaciones explains the researcher-militants’ “quest is to carry out theoretical and practical work oriented to co-produce the knowledges and modes of an alternative sociability, beginning with the power (potencia) of those subaltern knowledges.” In engaging with social realities artists have increasingly become archivers, publishers and researchers. This exhibition bought together some of these research projects which have informed both how these artists have tried to engage with social realities and encourage forms of alternative knowledge and resistance.
This exhibition would not have been possible without help from Mori Gallery, Marrickville Council, The Australia Council for the Arts, The National Association for the Visual Arts, Gallery 4a, Breakdown Press, The Bolivarian Circle, LASNET and the Australian Venezuela Solidarity Network and various donations by solidarity and activist groups. But it also would not have happened without the the broader community of socially engaged artists and activists who are part of the exhibition and it's generous and enthusiastic supporters
Keg de Souza and Zanny Begg, project initiators
Review of If You See Something, Say Something
by Bec Dean in Realtime here
Download a copy of the newspaper here
SquatSpace presents SquatFest every year at the same date and time as TropFest. While the hopeful entrants for TropFest are fretting about whether they'll get the chance to move up a rung in the Hollywood Sweatshop, artists and activists from 'round Australia are living it up, projecting films and videos in an inspiring squatted venue.
SquatFest began at the Broadway Squats in 2001, and has since made appearances at the Midnight Star Social Centre, the Sydney Park Brickworks, the Sydney Dental Hospital, under the grandstand at Esrkineville, and many other amazing venues! Our film programmes have toured to Newcastle, Melbourne, Perth, and Indonesia.
Site dedicated to the history of SquatFest here