Thursday, October 28, 2010

Containing Gentrification Banksy Style

So, apparently this anti-gentrification movement called Hedonism International is sending its members to view flats in Berlin’s most sought-after areas posing as would-be tenants. Once there, they strip off and prance around with only a Mickey Mouse mask to cover their identities, and with slogans such as “too expensive” or “rip off” painted on their birthday suits. Their stunt is often uploaded on Youtube the following morning.

Gentrification is a bit of a touchy issue in Berlin, to put it mildly, so I’m carefully going to side-step round it. But let me stress that I fully sympathise, nobody likes high property prices. I should know, I lived a decade in London. I’m however a tad semiotically confused…I mean what does Mickey Mouse has to do with high rents? Is there something else we don’t know about him (apart from a tendency to walk around in only pants?) Has he - unbeknownst to us - been dabbling in hedge fund management too? And more importantly, where are Donald Duck’s pants? Oooooh, it’s something to do with Capitalism, right? I always associate pant- wearing mice with unrealistic property prices. We should all thank Hedonism International for bringing so much nuance and insight to the gentrification debate. Such helpful tips! They have clearly taken a page out of Banksy’s book of guerilla protest. In case you didn’t know, Banksy smuggled a life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner into Disney World. Hardcore! Not being a curator of hardcore myself and lacking Banksy’s tenous grasp of semiotics, I completely failed to see the link between Mickey Mouse and waterboarding. First torture, and now real estate speculation? Holy cheese what an evil rodent!