The Privatisation of Public Space

This blog oulines my ideas, thinking and research.

POPs is about more than gentrification - it’s about disempowerment. A dystopian future where few own anything and everything has been privatised from the ground we stand on, the water we drink and the air we breathe, the seeds of which are clearly visible now.

Metaphor for my private experience of these pseudo-public spaces.These images attempt to disrupt the prevailing narrative of the spectacle.

It is possible to imagine that at some point in the future the landowner erects a fence around these spaces and charges entry fees and/or restricts access to these once communal spaces. This idea could be extended to those from particular social, ethnic or economic groups effectively making a two tiered experience of our cities - on that can afford to pay the other for those that cannot. This already exists, of course, through poverty and social exclusion, though the privatisation of these spaces would solidify this on a legal footing.

The Dystopia of Privatising Air:

Peter Brabeck, CEO of the world’s largest foodstuff company, Nestle, has begun plans to privatise the air we breathe within municipal borders across the globe.

Nestle’s idea is to make air a quantifiable commodity sold on the open market. The company would then contract with municipal leaders (from New York to New Zealand) to be the principal supplier of the air we breathe.  Meaning: if New Yorkers wanted to breathe the air around them within the city’s limits, they would need to pay Nestle in order to do so.

This news comes on the heels of Brabeck’s announcement that he considers fresh water to be a commodity that should be wholly privatized rather than a human necessity to which global citizens have a right to unfettered access:

According to Brabeck, access to water is not a human right, and those who purport such claims are extremists.

Now, Nestle’s CEO is categorising the air we breathe as a commodity as well. “Those on the left backed by NGOs will say that access to air is a human right,” Braback said when reached for comment. “However, oxygen is just like anything else. It’s a commodity. People want it. And a market value should ascribed to it.”

When asked whether making air a commodity could potentially leave millions (or billions) of poor global citizens out in the cold, Braback rejected such thoughts as fear-mongering. “Once we know what air is worth, we’ll know how large the subsidies need to be to keep poor people breathing.”

With this in mind it is not impossible that in our lifetime the water we drink, the air we breathe, the building we live in and the land we stand on, we have no right to. A situation where citizenship is reduced to our ability to pay, or not, for access to our basic needs.

Kinder Scout mass trespass:

Trafalgar Square - owned by the Queen - Poll Tax riot 

Housing right to buy - privatising social housingTrace the journey/ownership of one piece of land.

Vernacular Landscape submission:

East Village letting agency:

News articles:

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