Last year we created Gentrification Battlefield for the occasion of the Noord exhibition at new media and art institute Mediamatic in Amsterdam. The exhibition consisted of works by 22 artists in and about the district of Amsterdam-Noord (North Amsterdam). Gentrification Battlefield aimed to address the issue of gentrification processes in Noord by presenting a trailer of a simulated isometric real-time strategy game where the old and new inhabitants of Amsterdam-Noord are fighting over possession of the land.
Along with 21 Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Dutch artists and designers, we spent the Summer of 2010 mapping Amsterdam-Noord’s visible and invisible locations, people and data flows, and research its history and future. Our collective work resulted in an exhibition and gave rise to the first Arabic travel guide to the Netherlands. We decided to explore the classic urban phenomenon of gentrification in Amsterdam-Noord. Ten years ago only a few dared to cross the IJ river to occupy an abandoned hangar. Meanwhile, the frontline of ‘gentrification’ has moved. The NDSM Wharf is firmly in the hands of the invading forces led by companies such as MTV. And also the car repair shops of Buiksloterham and Nieuwendammerham lose ground to creative companies with concrete poured floors and apple green chairs.
To provide insight in how the gentrification evolves, we decided to present the process as if it were a battle. In collaboration with animation artist Coen Rens we created Gentrification Battlefield, a video that presents gentrification in a whole new way — as a possible computer game. The result is an animation which shows a simulated isometric real-time-strategy game where the old and new inhabitants are fighting over possession of the land.
Gentrification Battlefield has been selected by New York’s Museum of Modern Art for the exhibition Talk to Me, which runs between 24 July and 7 November, 2011. Talk to Me explores the communication between people and things, featuring a variety of designs that enhance communicative possibilities and embody a new balance between technology and people.