Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Neo Bohemia: How fetishization of the working class manifests itself in where bohemians choose to live

One aspect of the Llloyd's Neo-Bohemia that particularly interested me was the bohemian festishization of the working class coupled with the fact that they had very little understanding of it.

Lloyd Writes:

" These people were not slummers and they were certainly not philanthropists; they came to revel and discover, not aid and uplift... [they prided] themselves on a hedonistic familiarity with the city and its gaudy and besmudged riches. Compared to these diversions , the everyday struggles of the shop floors were altogether too tedious and, with few exceptions, were ignored." (56)

While Lloyd is writing about the bohemians living in the village in the 20's, this appropriation of all of the glamorous elements of the city's underbelly with ignorance of its struggles is something that is alive and well in bohemian culture today. One example is hip hop, hip hop is often talked about by bohemians with a certain reverence because it is a discussion of all of the over the top, glamorous aspects of poverty. While hip hop sometime gives a nod to struggle and the real aspects of poverty, it by and large ignores it, and even when it does, it is often described with a certain grace and an element of cool. This is the music listened to by many bohemians at their parties and while they may be able to appreciate the production values and seedy lyrics, they generally have little understanding of what it means to sell drugs, lose a friend or get shot at (it's up for debate how many of the artists producing the music itself even have an understanding of those things, but thats another converation entirely)

Another manifestation of this is the idea of living in a loft. Bohemians occupy spaces that were once used as space of production, and they fetishize this as well. One example of this post industrial decor is Urbus Orbis Cafe which Lloyd writes about in his book as well. He descibes the former sweatshot as having tables built out of the exposed brick walls with machine parts like gears and cogs embeded into them. Bohemians have not only taken over the physical spaces of industrialization, they have also co-opted the aesthetics of it. Perhaps this could be tied to trying to hold onto a degree of authenticity or to pay homage to the working men and women before them, but either way, thier fetishization of the working class manifests itself in the environment that they build for themselves. I may not have the strongest case to make for "Industrial Chic" being tied to the way that bohemians admire the working class, but I do think that there is a link to be made.

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