Artists are taught to compete with each other and that they don’t have shared interests. The DIY ethic is supposed to be against that. It is in working artists’ interest that rents don’t quadruple in their neighborhoods. It’s also in the interest of the people that are born and raised in a neighborhood that rents don’t quadruple in their neighborhood.
There are a couple of avenues for banding together against this trend—one is for artists to smash the idea that their presence in a neighborhood is an open invitation to real estate vampires. This requires doing the “boring” stuff: protesting/petitioning zoning board meetings, community council, etc. It also involves openly criticizing and actively boycotting the Pitchfork & Urban Outfitters–endorsed/monetize yr soundcloud/lena dunham/6 dollar cup of organic coffee/unpaid internship culture that demands every neighborhood become a homogenous luxury playground.
The frustration recently stems from the fact that artists are lacking an organization that really represents their interests—which are not hypergentrification, but the ability to live subversive culture without having to find a new place to live every six months. In the past, transplants and locals alike have contributed to such movements, especially in the LES in the late 80’s/early 90’s with the squatter rights and anti-gentrification movements. Ideas like this are not unheard of, they’re just knowledge that’s been lost in passing to our generation. This doesn’t have to be a game of “you want authenticity, but you’re also guilty” or the ever-passive “that’s just the way it is.” There are more active options.
Fitness was forced out of its location at 1196 Myrtle Avenue because of our slumlord’s vendetta against youth culture and an overactive, corrupt police force that is hellbent on making NYC a sterile wasteland. This is a common fate for new and old residents/store owners of Bushwick, as well as DIY show spaces. It is becoming increasingly difficult to create spaces in NYC where counterculture thrives. Though Fitness was short-lived, we hoped to serve as an example of what youths and artists should demand from their scene. Donation-based shows. Artists getting paid if there is money exchanged at the door. Low rent prices for people living in the space. An area of lawlessness where people can socialize, strategize, and create things freely without fear of being arrested or looked down upon or made broke.
The last few years have seen the collapse of several important pillars of the DIY community. We encourage artists to reverse this trend by engaging, building, collaborating, producing work, being inclusive to their community, and most importantly, by actively not participating in the luxury world that is infringing on the neighborhoods we can afford to live in right now. The only way to counteract the radical changes that are being made to every neighborhood in the interest of the wealthy, is to collectively stand up against them, to stop being passive.
– miles pflanz & laura blüer
fitness center for arts & tactics