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Whitley Bay, walking between the boarded up sea-front buildings. Something has finished here, we agree. Something is over. But at least they haven't begun the regeneration yet. They're going to turn it into a cultural quarter. Imagine that! A cultural quarter, where there was once the funfair and golden sands.

It was the same in the city. W. was unimpressed by the regeneration of the quayside, with its so-called public art. Public art is invariably a form of marketing for property development, he says. It's inevitably the forerunner of gentrification.

W. is an enemy of art. We ought to fine artists rather than subsidise them, he says. They ought to be subject to systematic purges. He's never doubted we need some kind of Cultural Revolution.

The real art of the city is industrial, of course, W. says. Spiller's Wharf. The High Bridge. The four storeys of the flax mill in the Ouseburn Valley...

W. likes to imagine the people of the city, the old working class, coming to reclaim the quayside. What need did anchor-smiths and salt-panners have for a cultural quarter? Why can't the descendants of the keelmen, of the rope-makers and wagon-drivers, come and retake the new ghettoes for the rich? In his imagination, W. says, a great army of Geordies storm along the river, smashing the public art and tearing down the new buildings.

--Lars Iyer, Dogma, 2012, p.73-4. Image: the John Heartfield exhibition at Side Gallery, Newcastle. Sadly, the very impressive Spiller's Mill was demolished a few months ago: by the time I got there, nothing was left.

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