Frieze week continues, the Other Art Fair is happening once more, happening again down at one of Truman Brewery’s Brick Lane spaces, got to admit I’m not a fan of the fair anyway, the outrageous way they exploit artists with their fees required to take part, why do artists allow themselves to exploited like that? Why aren’t artists ever strong enough or brave enough to just say no? That though, this year, is a relatively minor side issue, the far far bigger picture is what Trumans Brewery are doing in terms of whitewashing or artwashing or just arrogantly destroying years and years of local tradition and beautiful community, creativity, cross-pollenation and so so much more. Once again I have to ask my fellow artists why they’re happy to involve themselves with disgusting bit of social cleansing by taking part in anything to do with Truman Brewery? As a now long-standing East London artist I have to say I was somewhat ashamed to see it all today. Not that I ever had any intention of going in to the damn fair of course.
Right now Truman Brewery are proposing a wholesale redevelopment of Brick Lane, they basically want to and seemingly are being allowed to rip the heart out of the unique street and the very special area. With a wave of a cheque book they want to destroy massive slices of cultural life, Corporate destruction that will especially hit the much loved Bangladesh community who are being forced out of their homes, shops and world-famous curry houses, whole swaths of communities, a rich tapestry of people, of unique businesses, local culture, and yes art culture, and not just street art, far far more than just that. So much is about to be washed away and all despite massive massive objection, destroyed to be replaced by what were told will be the same old cold-hearted corporate high street chain shops and soul-sucking coffee shops, the same old crap you can go to a million places and enjoy if that really is your thing. Westfield is but a short bus or train ride away if that’s really what you want, we don’t need more of the same in Brick Lane, we love the culture, the food, the people, the art, the clothes, the markets, the games of chess, the smells, the colours, we love it all.
Why would anyone want destroy Brick Lane’s unique culture and community other than for greed, it has been well publicised so I do question why the hell any self-respecting artist would want to take part in the Other Art Fair right now? Today I just happened to be walking home (from an annoyingly closed when they said they were open) StolenSpace gallery and a visit to Gallery 46 and the Luke Haines exhibition that’s on right now (more later) as well as the always brilliant Whitechapel street Market (four pomegranates for a quid, that’s my next still life sorted out!) when I came upon the protest that the big queue waiting to pay to get in to the fair were doing their best to ignore. Impossible not to join in and add to the voices and the strong opinions, as an artist I was proud to stand with them for a while today.
Everything about what’s happening down at Brick Lane is wrong right now, everything Trueman Brewery are doing is wrong, East London and the many strands of the long-standing local community are being ripped apart, we’re all being pushed out, any yes we artists are being gentrified out of our art spaces as well. Art spaces, dress making spaces, local food spaces, the authentic multi-cultural beauty of Brick Lane, a culture that has evolved in such a positive way for hundreds of years all being washed away by heartless corporate greed by those community destroying gentrifiers who want us to shop and eat in the same soulless cash-free glass-fronted little boxes.
Art needs to stand up to these things, art needs to be on the right side of the argument, without community art is nothing but “stuff”. How any of my fellow artists could even dream of taking part in the Other Art Fair this year, especially my fellow East London artists who really should know better is beyond me . I stand with the protesters making the noise today. We cannot watch Brick Lane’s unique local culture being destroyed, without the people and the cultures of Brick Lane art is pointless. (sw)
You’ll find some video on the new Organ Instagram feed
do as always, click on an image t oenlarge or to run the slide show…