In Residence: Witnessing and Gentrification in Susan Silton’s Los Angeles

Susanna Newbury, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Los Angeles artist Susan Silton has created a type of performance practice based on the ethical imperative of reparative witnessing. Orchestrating deeply researched opportunities for participants to engage in elective communities, her art helps individuals see their roles in historic forms of crisis accountably. Several recent pieces reflect not only on global crises perpetuated by neoliberalism and US political fallout, but on a more specific, if tricky crisis: gentrification. Tracing Silton’s own biographical relation to urban change, as well as the modes in which key works select specific sites of change as text or subtext, this article discusses the roles artists play in gentrification, as well as their potential for attending to its reparative aesthetics.