The Art of Gentrification

Comic, Simon Orpana,  saorpana@gmail.com, $5.00  

The Art of Gentrification is an illustrated  hitchhiker’s guide to gentrification set  in the unsuspecting city of Hamilton,  Ontario. Touching on a handful of  philosophical heavy-hitters from  Althusser to Gramsci, the comic doubles  as a crash course in cultural theory,  demonstrating its relevance in the  everyday life of a Hamiltonian.  At the heart of Simon Orpana’s zine  is a deft and discerning analysis of the  Creative Economy and its ramifications:  precarious labour, the rise in rent  and the forced displacement of local  residents. Balancing irreverence on one  end and insight on the other, the zine  is at its best when complex ideas are  entertainingly demonstrated, such as an  re-enactment of post-Marxist Michael  Hardt’s and Antonio Negri’s Empire  thesis using the cast of Star Wars. At  points however, the popular culture  cameos sometimes paint his criticism  with a sardonic or disturbing tone.  While Richard Florida’s thesis has  received criticism from both the left  and right, Orpana’s personal account of  the urban movement and his historical  tracing of similar phenomena hits home  with references to lived experiences  both in Toronto and Hamilton. The Art  of Gentrification is an entertaining must- read for anyone interested in the urban  dynamics of gentrification. (Annie  Wong)

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