Comic, Simon Orpana, firstname.lastname@example.org, $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.