“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.
Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.
Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.
From Jessica Olien in Salon with “Inside the Box: People don’t actually like creativity”.
If the art world is primarily about connections, then proximity to the highest concentration of influential individuals has a kind of logic. If, however, it is about creating meaning, then that same path is perhaps toxic. Meaning arrives in disjointed leaps. It is incremental, exchange-based, one person or idea to another. It expands along unpredictable paths, often not leading anywhere near a biennial. And yet, something in the world has ruptured. One can live creating connections with all the right people or working to create meaning that will always make its own connections. If a new (art) world forms, my guess is that it won’t happen in New York, or Los Angeles for that matter. Maybe it is already nascent in St. Louis, maybe Albuquerque, maybe Kansas City, maybe Minneapolis. Or perhaps it is simply in the unpredictable connections between these places.
One perspective states that working away from the coasts creates a relative isolation that forces great artists to be greater. Artists are more likely to follow a personal vision, assuming they have one. Those who take the space and time allowed and, with sheer force, bring something into being, bear more weight than the coasts, but too often gravity without that force leads many to settle in the center.
From James McAnally in Temporary Art Review with “Off-Center: Or Why I Don’t Live in New York”.
At the New Cities Summit I had a coffee with Saskia Sassen of Columbia University, leading thinker on cities. That took some doing: Sassen arrived from Bogotá that morning, and was flying to Zurich hours later. “Cities were poor,” she told me, in between. “In the 1970s London was broke, New York was broke, Tokyo was broke, Paris was much poorer than now. And the built environment was a bit run down.”But from the 1980s, these cities recovered. An increasingly complex financial sector needed more sophisticated networks of lawyers and accountants. Corporate mergers and takeovers meant global headquarters got concentrated in fewer places. Crime declined, making cities less scary. And so great cities grew richer. Fancy architects put up lovely buildings. House prices rose.
First, the working classes and bohemians were priced out. Nowadays the only ribald proletarian banter you hear inside Paris is from the market sellers, who don’t live there anymore.
That was gentrification. Now comes plutocratisation: the middle classes and small companies are falling victim to class-cleansing. Global cities are becoming patrician ghettos. In 2009, says Sassen, the top 1 per cent of New York City’s earners got 44 per cent of the compensation paid to its workers. The “super-prime housing market” keeps rising even when the national economy collapses. After Manhattan, New York’s upper-middle classes are being priced out of Brooklyn. Sassen diagnoses “gradual destruction”.
Global cities are turning into vast gated communities where the one per cent reproduces itself. Elite members don’t live there for their jobs. They work virtually anyway. Rather, global cities are where they network with each other, and put their kids through their country’s best schools. The elite talks about its cities in ostensibly innocent language, says Sassen: “a good education for my child,” “my neighbourhood and its shops”. But the truth is exclusion.
From Simon Kuper in FT Magazine with “Priced out of Paris”.