Gentrification as defined by Webster’s dictionary is as follows: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.
So what has this got to do with photography and my blog? Well it gives a photographer a subject matter to write about, a cause to pursue as it were. I’ve never understood why you would make an area better by displacing those that live there. Why not invest in bringing up the folks that live as well as attracting new residents also? Sure I understand it’s not a simple task and something that you do not do overnight but lets at least give it the old “college try” for once.
In May of next year I have my first show in five years and so for inspiration and direction I went to see a friend and very successful fellow artist Chris Fraser. I met Chris at his studio in West Oakland, which is where I took the images included in this blog post. It’s a neighborhood that is currently going through a very huge change which overall will be a negative and not for the greater good, my opinion, but that’s how I feel. I arrived for our meeting very early so I went for a walk with my camera in hand. Sure it was run down, homeless folks in tents on the sidewalks, and pigeons dining in pot holes in front of new lofts that start at half a million and the top out at just over a million dollars. The contrast of the haves and have not’s was vast but change is coming and the current residents will have to find new digs.
It certainly set the tone for my next body of work that day and also confirmed and changed some views of this photographer. How do you change society for the great good? Well that’s the $64,000 dollar question but I know you just don’t bring in the new and kick out the old because all you’ve done is move the problem.