Photo: Posters outside artists’ apartments denouncing the East Austin Studio Tour’s expansion into the Riverside area
By Jakob Stein
This morning Incendiary received photos of large posters pasted near the apartment entrances of two artists participating in this year’s East Austin Studio Tours (E.A.S.T.), an annual event which promotes the studios and homes of petty bourgeois artists in East Austin. The actions targeted Tamora Burk and Chris Kerr, who are two of the three artists living in the East Riverside area participating in E.A.S.T.
Up until last year, E.A.S.T. had rarely expanded south of the Colorado River. The posters denounced the festival’s expansion into Riverside, which has seen a fierce anti-gentrification struggle since the Domain On Riverside luxury project was announced in early 2018.
One poster read:
“Gentrifier Artists and East Austin Studio Tours Out of Riverside!
The people of East Riverside will combat all your attempts to gentrify us like you did to historic East Austin together with real estate interests. Artists, stand with the working class and oppressed peoples facing gentrification and displacement. Resist the bribes of developers and exploiters!
Run Out the Sellouts!
No Arts Districts!”
In addition to the large poster, large red Xs were painted on walls and doors. Smaller flyers with the photos and names of the participating artists were also pasted nearby, calling them ‘Hack Artist Sellouts’ and saying that “East Riverside will not become the next neighborhood for sellout artists to ‘revitalize’ and help displace the working class and oppressed peoples!”
Last year, E.A.S.T. coordinated with Austin Creative Alliance and the Pump Project to promote events in a temporary tent at 1600 Pleasant Valley Dr. at the now defunct ‘pop-up’ Riverside Arts District. These events were confronted by Riverside residents and revolutionary organization Defend Our Hoodz, and the plans for the “pop-up” Arts District were eventually scrapped by its creators.
The use of the arts by developers and real estate interests has been well understood as a strategy to increase the relative profile of working class neighborhoods in order to prepare them for gentrification. Artists from petty bourgeois backgrounds are often willing tools in this process, seeking individual gain over solidarity with the proletariat who are displaced under the capitalist reshaping of neighborhoods.
The posters signal that artists will be seen as little more than the agents of capitalists if they ignore the struggles of the working class and continue to justify their own role in the gentrification process.