How did once dilapidated industrial era textile factory spaces go from symbols of urban decay to becoming expensive lofts and symbols of an alternative “chic” or bohemian urban lifestyle?
This week and next, we look at how artists and creatives go from outsiders to what Lloyd calls “useful labor”, as cultural consumption becomes increasingly important in post-modern or post industrial urban economies. Through the term Artistic Mode of Production, Zukin describes how city planners and private sector developers sought to build on (or exploit) the cultural status of artists moving into Soho in order to develop the real estate market and reshape the cities identity in turn. She shows that by aestheticizing the vestiges of the industrial city, artists perform a kind of primer for gentrification, enabling the development of a market that caters to prospective middle and upper class residents in search of an alternative lifestyle from other parts of the city or outlying suburbs (we will discuss the impact of “lifestyles” a lot in the future).
On Thursday we will watch Su Friedrich’s Gut Renovation and discuss the parallels that have taken place in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood “revitalization” process.