“GENTRIFICATION IS A REPLACEMENT PROCESS. SO IT IS WHERE DIVERSITY IS REPLACED BY HOMOGENEITY, AND THIS, I BELIEVE, UNDERMINES URBANITY AND CHANGES THE WAY WE THINK BECAUSE WE HAVE MUCH LESS ACCESS TO A WIDE VARIETY OF POINTS OF VIEW. WE ARE DIMINISHED BY IT. SO LITERALLY, THE RANGE OF OUR MIND’S REACH IS MUCH MORE LIMITED BECAUSE OF GENTRIFICATION.”
With cranes crowding the skyline, it seems like every corner of the city is undergoing some form of condominium development. These developments are changing the character of our city as the people who do not fit and cannot afford this gentrified urban lifestyle leave the downtown core in search of spaces that they can exist in.
In her recent book The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, Sarah Schulman argues that gentrification is a process that not only transforms the social make-up of our cities. Gentrification literally colonizes our minds. In the gentrified mind, she suggests, consumer-identity and marketing taglines become literal truth. For example: you are bohemian because you live at The Bohemian Embassy™, not because you are actually living a life that repudiates conventional rules and practice. And since you never actually face a “real-life” bohemian in your homogeneous city, your internal sense of authenticity inside this consumer-created identity is never challenged. The result is a populace that is increasingly disconnected with reality. Acts of resistance and rebellion become confused with making a brand choice. Empathy for more vulnerable people in society disappears because they are nowhere to be seen. And the innovative intellectual and creative energy that emerges from socially, culturally and economically diverse environments flatlines.
It is with these thoughts that we welcome you to Split Britches’ Lost Lounge. This piece was created in response to the startling transformation that has recently occurred in New York City’s Bowery corridor. It is an absolute honor to welcome these queer performance legends into our building. We cannot think of better people to share a space with as we reflect on what we are losing in the face of “development” and perhaps begin to imagine a different future for our city.
Thank you for joining us!
-Brendan Healy, Artistic Director