activism / culturemaking / house/home / reading / urban

Manhattan, 1980

“In The Real Estate Show’s manifesto, the artist-populated committee laid out the mission:

This is a short-term occupation of vacant city-managed property. The action is extralegal — it illuminates no legal issues, calls for no “rights.” It is pre-emptive and insurrectionary. …

The intention of this action is to show that artists are willing and able to place themselves and their work squarely in a context which shows solidarity with oppressed people, a recognition that mercantile and institutional structures oppress and distort artists’ lives and works, and a recognition that artists, living and working in depressed communities, are compradors in the revaluation of property and the “whitening” of neighborhoods.

It is important to focus attention on the way artists get used as pawns by greedy white developers. …

The alphabet city occupation took place at time when downtown Manhattan was a clearly a different, rougher and edgier place; yet the artists’ actions do set a precedent for the more conventional, commercial pop-ups that we’re seeing a lot of these days, where fashion brands and trendy retailers temporarily lease a commercial storefront. The 1980 video captures artists who are taking risks to exhibit art (the building was shut down by the police as a result of the show) and taking a stand for social justice (the older exhibition argued that given a housing crisis derelict buildings should be reused).”

– Mimi Zeiger, The Interventionists Toolkit, January 2011


2 thoughts on “Manhattan, 1980

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