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The WBUR Read-In: Artists in struggle

“The panicked artists have called a meeting. The idea was raised that perhaps they could collectively buy the building, “said WBUR’s Amelia Mason earlier this week. The struggling artist is a character who lives on in cultural imagery around the world. But As cities, often the best places for artists to collaborate and find work, become more and more expensive, even artists who have carved out a space for themselves find it difficult to secure space in the studio.

Artists in the United States have flocked to the country’s cultural centers for centuries. But Mason added, “Artists are often the forerunners of gentrification, drawn to ruined industrial areas with cheap rent and lax supervision. They help make the neighborhood trendy … which raises rents, as long as the original artists and residents don’t come with a price. This problem is multifaceted, as the place where artists can live and work comfortably is often affected by issues such as race and class.

In his report, Mason explained that the idea of ​​using art to improve neighborhoods is a common sentiment in Boston. It is unclear whether it is sustainable or not, both for the artists and for the communities in which they live. The displacement of the artist is a cyclical matter. However, as rents continue to rise, it could reach a fever pitch. Below are some tips for some reading that explores cultural capital, artists in exile, and artists in search of home.

By Gary Indiana

Gary Indiana’s memoir lays it all bare. “I’m nearly sixty-five, have practically nothing of my own yet, and I could very well end up in the same trash heap that most older people in America are thrown into, regardless of what ‘cultural capital’ I have accumulated. “The book is a retelling of the prolific artist’s life from his youth, from his sleepy hometown of Derry, New Hampshire, to Berkeley, California, Los Angeles, New York and Havana. More than an artist’s memoir. , is a story about the human condition and what it was like to grow up as a feverishly creative gay in America However, throughout this book there are artists and their search for a place they can call their own.


By Rachel Cusk

Rachel Cusk’s most recent novel, “Second Place,” is a kind of domestic story. It is written as a long letter to a friend, detailing the narrator’s obsession with a painter named “L”. A strange relationship begins to take shape after the narrator invites the painter to stay in her country house. The story deals with the themes of motherhood, marriage and all things interpersonal, but there is a point where it changes and art takes center stage. Similar to Gary Indiana’s memoir, questions about the practicality of cultural capital arise when the painter encounters health problems and it becomes apparent that he has nowhere to go.


By James Campbell

This reinterpretation of post-World War II Paris and the writers who flocked to it is an essential reading on the theme of the artist’s displacement. The book follows giants like Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Samuel Beckett as they work through their writing and shape their professional lives outside their home countries. The book is a cultural history of Parisian expatriate scholars, telling the story of how exile – due to politics, race and war – has given us men and women of letters who have changed the world.


Additional reading:

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