As I have written here before, between 1995 and 1999 Redfern in Sydney was my home in the world. An amazing neighborhood that centered around The Block, the property of the Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company. In Redfern a lot of artists, musicians and activists made their lives in a fashion that was more often than not cooperative and autonomous. I have written down some of my recollections of the period 1995-97 in Redfern here, when the threat of gentrification, the heavy police presence and the social problems (including uncontrolled hard drug use) where eating away at the sense of community that I found when I first came to The Fern in 1994.
"The Block, Redfern, has been described as the "Black Heart" of Australia and occupies a unique place within Sydney's urban landscape as a centre for the Indigenous community. It was the site for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and has been the gathering point for many protests and community events. Just minutes from the second busiest train station in Sydney are the open camp fires and communal use of public space of the community on The Block." Critical Spatial Practice
Today the exemplary blog, Critical Spatial Practice has published an account of the art exhibition There Goes The Neighbourhood along with a short essay on The Politics of Urban Space:
There Goes the Neighbourhood is an exhibition, residency, discussion and publishing project for May 2009. The central element of this project will be an exploration of the politics of urban space, with a focus on Redfern, Sydney. The project will examine the complex life of cities and how the phenomenon of gentrification is altering the relationship between democracy and demography around the world. While urban change itself is not always a bad thing, gentrification often happens at an accelerated rate, out pricing the lower income and marginalized communities from the neighbourhood and dislocating them from their existing connections to urban space. The project brings together artists from Australia and around the world whose work addresses these issues.
There Goes the Neighbourhood is also a 132 page book, that can be downloaded as a PDF from the website.