Art that can fight: Resisting Art Murmur GentrificationPosted: August 5, 2012
In Oakland there is an event on the first Friday of every month called the Art Murmur that the art collective I am apart of, The Corner Collective, vends at. During the event art galleries around downtown stay open later, and vendors and performers line the streets with hand crafted creations and performances, while people are able to roam the streets freely. Our collective likes to participate in the event, because we are all artists living in Oakland. We are all writers, visual artists, musicians, dancers and performers that believe first and foremost that art is a revolutionary weapon in the hands oft the people. We seek to have art move people in directions of struggle and liberation. Art without substance is useless and only strengthens the bourgeois culture around us. The art murmur is one outlet for us to share our creations, but also our politics with the 100s of people who roam up and down telegraph ave throughout the night.
The Art Murmur began as a community event to bring people and artists together in celebration, but is rapidly changing into a tool of gentrification for KONO business association and the local government, which functions to protect capital and business interests. New regulations have been enacted to limit people’s free movement of the streets through new permit regulations and rules, as well as taking away 23rd street as an area for artists to table and perform for free. The state has also increased its presence at the Murmur making sure to harass and police the people, who are out trying to have a good time. This past murmur on August 3rd had dozens of pigs and private security piglets roaming the streets hassling the people. The energy was uneasy at times. Our collective, like most of the vendors, set up without permits. These are public streets and people should be able to sit on them and sell their art, especially during an art walk event. But as the purpose of the art murmur shifts to be more and more about the development of a thriving business district, rather than community, working-class artists are forced to either pay up or be forcefully pushed off of the streets by the pigs. This all relates back to the function of capital and property. The local bourgeoisie has the material power to own space and therefore control the movement on that space. They want the Art Murmur to be a bourgeois art event for the new, largely white, money pouring into Oakland so they create new laws and rules that will support those efforts.
That does not mean that we are at their whim. We can also step back and analyze the situation and our power to respond and change the situation. We could organize as Oakland artist and refuse to pay the fees and refuse to leave the space. We could organize parades and marches of resistance. We are visionaries that must use our skills to conjure new visions of the world and living. The gentrification of Oakand and the Art Murmur represents a potential opening in struggle for revolutionary artists; a way for us to practically use our art to resist the political economic oppression within our community. The Corner Collective is interested in doing such work. We must take back our streets and our communities and we believe that art must play a role in that. If you live in Oakland and are interested in connecting with us around these issues send an email here: email@example.com and check out our blog here: anationofrighteousminds.wordpress.com Also, peep some of my new creations below. If you are interested or inspired by any and would like me to create something beautiful for you send me an email. I sell $5-20 sliding scale.
Peace and love yall!