Specter: The Gentrification Series

To use a mangled metaphor, it looks like street artist Specter has thrown his terry cloth headband into the basketball ring in the ongoing Atlantic Yards dispute between pro-development and anti-gentrification forces in downtown Brooklyn.

Street artist Specter’s “A Nightmare on Atlantic” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For those of you who have been living under an IKEA, gentrification has been plowing through New York City since at least the 1950’s and it went on steroids in the 1990’s as developers began mowing down anything in their path by brandishing a legal claim of “Eminent Domain”.

Closeup of Specter piece (photo ©Jaime Rojo)

Don’t take my word for it, even conservative stalwart George Will wrote about it’s perceived mis-use a few weeks ago in the Washington Post.


Specter's "Caucasian Invasion" (photo ©Jaime Rojo)

For my money, and I’m broke, social critique doesn’t get richer than this, and this series will get tongues wagging if these posters stay up for any period of time before being bulldozed.  Start the clock!

Included in the Atlantic Yards plans are new condos and a giant shiny new stadium for the basketball team The New Jersey Nets (huh?). That is helpful to know when looking at these hand made posters that have appeared in the affected neighborhood; the gentrifying forces of the moneyed class are depicted as parodies of movie genres; a Kung-fu movie, a horror movie, and a high-stakes pimps-n-hos movie.

Specter (detail)

Specter (detail) (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The genres are employed effectively, and point clearly to topics not usually so blatantly discussed when talking about gentrification – I’m thinking specifically of the one called “Caucasian Invasion”. That one might get some of our more socio-politically astute neighbors in a frothy choked-up indignation.

Bling!  (Specter) (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Specter (detail)
Up close, not so much. Specter (detail) (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you can see across the bottom of the pieces, the hand painted posters are also for an art show at the MoCADA gallery in two weeks.  But these are more than merely advertisements.

Specter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The one styled as a high-end gourmet grocery store poster also hits home – I need to get one of those locally-grown pineapples! Maybe Dean & Deluca?