Oakland: Who Owns the Walls?
Oakland: Who Owns the Walls?, 2016. Color, digital video, 9:30 minutes.
In our documentary, Oakland: Who Owns the Walls?, we hope to preserve the story and share the powerful work of Oakland’s creative minds, who have spoken out about gentrification, unemployment and displacement. We investigated the relationship between the arts and gentrification, uncovering the marginalized perspectives of locals, who employ the arts in a time of drastic socioeconomic change. Gentrification describes the sociopolitical landscape of Oakland, and encompasses the intersection between local art, culture and economic turmoil impacting longtime, largely underrepresented minority, Oakland residents. The media often associates this controversial phenomenon, driven by an increased standard of living, with the displacement and undermining of the initial population, culture and the arts. The artists, whose works inhabit the space around the iconic Telegraph Avenue, set the stage for the demographic and economic shift. However, in conjunction with the artist-driven aesthetic transformation of the city (e.g. cafes, murals, cultural events), the repercussions of reinvestment have been severe for the original community, including artists. Oakland’s economically disadvantaged residents, artists and political groups stand united, in an artistic battle against gentrification.
Lana Lam, B.A. Film & Media (2016)