Article originally appears on Welcome2theBronx.com.
by Ed Garcia Conde
As if last year’s gentrification party by Keith Rubenstein wasn’t enough, Bronx-born Swizz Beatz is hosting what appears to be an unofficial sequel to that event this coming week from Thursday, August 11th to Sunday, August 14th at a “yet to be named warehouse on the South Bronx waterfront in the ‘Piano District‘.”
Last October, artist Lucien Smith along with developer Keith Rubenstein of Somerset Partners who is trying to rebrand parts of Port Morris and Mott Haven as The Piano District in anticipation of up to six 25 story residential market rate towers along the South Bronx waterfront, held an “art” party called the Macabre Suite in Port Morris.
That tasteless event depicted burning trash cans reminiscent of our burning days with a bunch of A-Listers and hipsters posing with them. Even Baz Luhrmann who’s South Bronx-based series, ‘The Get Down’ was there happily enjoying the truly macabre fete ushering in gentrifiers by the literal bus loads because they were too good to take a cab or subway.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr was also in attendance enjoying the scene (yes, we have photographic evidence of him enjoying himself with other politicians).
Now, Swizz Beatz, who was one of the hosts for the Macabre Suite, is claiming that he, along with co-host Bacardi are, “bringing contemporary art and music back to The Bronx” under the guise of ‘No Commission Art Fair’ featuring 36 artists and just ONE from The Bronx.
No Commission Art debuted in Miami during the annual Art Basel event and reaped over $1 million for artists with 100% of proceeds straight.
So where do we begin dissecting of EVERYTHING that is simply wrong about this 4-day event?
Do we start by the fact that despite the backlash and outcry from October’s Macabre Suite and Rubenstein’s attempt to call the area The Piano District this event is billed as taken place in said fictional, non-existent neighborhood?
Or do we begin with the sheer audacity, the balls, the arrogance, the utter fucking gall to proclaim that they are somehow bringing contemporary art and music back to The Bronx, you know, the borough that gave birth to Hip Hop? The borough that never stopped creating and kept gifting the world with our many talented artists and musicians?
What about the lack of any Latino artist in the group, I mean you’re hosting an event in the borough that’s majority Latino, the least you can do is get ahold of Latinos (preferably from The Bronx).
How about that only ONE of the 36 artists (John Ahearn and we’re still waiting to hear why he’d lend himself to this event) are being used for the sole purpose of showing the world “look how cool and hip The South Bronx is” so developers can get more attention towards their investment in gentrifying The Bronx.
(If investors and bankers are reading this, did you know that these planned developments along the Harlem River waterfront were flooded by Superstorm Sandy and will keep getting flooded. Who wants to live in an area susceptible to floods? Doesn’t sound like a good use of investment capital.)
But back to the issue of the 36 artists. About a little over a third of the artists have some connections to The Bronx, albeit tenuous at best. Many of those have exhibited or participated in events with The Bronx Museum but beyond that no major connections to our borough.
This isn’t to say that all artists have to be exclusively from The Bronx because that’s just not realistic or how things operate bit at least make a damned effort to scout the hundreds (and we’re pretty sure thousands) of artists that call The Bronx home and are not just creating art but creating communities via their work.
We have so many amazing artists (because we never stopped creating) doing fantastic things with our children.
If such an event as the No Commission Art Fair is to be held in our HOME it shouldn’t be for gentrification purposes and the very least include a large portion of Bronx artists so that they too can tap into that philanthropic vein of funds that’s ever so increasingly hard for artists to capture in a competitive market where art collectors are evermore cautious about spending their monies.
This four-day event is nothing but using The Bronx for turning a quick buck but not investing in our borough’s people.
How dare you come into our home and disrespect us.
Once again, it’s safe to come to The Bronx but only when money leads the way.
If you’re interested in attending this free event (and I highly encourage folks to see how we’re being used) make sure you register and you have to be 21 and over to attend. So, to those who are clueless about what’s been going on, we say, #whatpianodistrict #thebronxisnotforsale
Artists that are participating in this event:
NO COMMISSION ART PERFORMS – BRONX 2016
/ A$AP ROCKY / SWIZZ BEATZ + FRIENDS / NINA CHANEL ABNEY / SO YOUN LEE / DERRICK ADAMS / KRISTEN LIU WONG / JOHN AHEARN / TOMOKAZU MATSUYAMA / RICARDO CAVOLO TAYLOR MCKIMENS / LUIGI CAZZANIGA / KARMIMADEEBORA MCMILLAN / SANDRA CHEVRIER JAYBO MONK / ALYSSA DENNIS RASHAAD NEWSOME / DELPHINE DIALLO OKUDA / FAILE / LYLE OWERKO / MIKE FALCON / EBONY PATTERSON / JEFFREY GIBSON / DANIEL PEDDLE / HASSAN HAJJAJ / PABLO POWER / SERBAN IONESCU / NATHANIEL MARY QUINN / MARCUS JAHMAL / JACOLBY SATTERWHITE / DOUGLAS JAMES SWOON / TODD JAMES / KEHINDE WILEY / KAJAHL / SAYA WOOLFALK / JEROME LAGARRIGUE / ZIO ZIEGLER