culturemaking / gentrification / reading

David Ley on “the aestheticisation of place”

“Artists … are very special members of the middle class for they stretch its
imagination, its desires, even its practices, beyond its norms and conventions. The artistic lifestyle, like the creative art-work, deliberately presses the borders of conventional middle-class life, while at the same time representing its advancing, colonising arm. … [T]his venturing is part of a broader field of relationships where the dialectical ties between artistic imagination and middle-class convention may lead to a synthesis in the aestheticised product. One such valorised
product is space.”

“The aesthetic appropriation of place, with its valuation of the commonplace and off-centre, appeals to other professionals, particularly those who are also higher in cultural capital than in economic capital and who share something of the artist’s antipathy towards commerce and convention. Like the artists, they are indifferent to the charms of suburban life and have stretched an alternate topography of
meaning across the space of the metropolis.”

David Ley, ‘Artists, aestheticisation and the field of gentrification’ , 2003.


2 thoughts on “David Ley on “the aestheticisation of place”

  1. Aaaaaahhaa but what about those arts and crafts and William Morris type of artist who spurred suburbanisation and the Garden Suburb movement in the first place?

  2. Yes – a different time, and one worth considering in critiques of suburbs/suburban life.

    Ley’s is a particular study of “the enhanced valuation of cultural capital since the 1960s encouraging spatial proximity by other professionals to the inner-city habitus of the artist”, referring to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (with applicability to other Anglosphere cities).

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