James Cohan Gallery Statement (from Chinatown Art Brigade)

To James Cohan Gallery,

We are writing to you as a collective of artists, activists and community residents to condemn your current exhibition August, in which the facade and interior of the gallery have been transformed into “the waiting room of a Chinatown business with an eclectic aesthetic.”  This “eclectic aesthetic” decidedly includes purposely constructed dents and holes in the wall and furniture, graffiti, broken ATMs, Chinese menus and a tarnished awning. Not only does this guise have little to no bearing on the actual works being shown, the choice of visual signifiers is a racist aggression towards the community of Chinatown that James Cohan Gallery is currently gentrifying.

As a gallery representing the non U.S., non New York based artist Omer Fast, it is reprehensible that you see fit to support this exploration of “temporal space” while contributing to the displacement of low income tenants and business owners in Chinatown. The artist may be heavily invested in ideas of ambivalence, ambiguity and the theatrics of performing authenticity, but let it be known that there is no ambiguity in the critical conditions residents here are facing today. The relative ease with which the gallery has greenlit this “futile gesture” and the tone deafness with which the artist creates his poor facsimile belie a deep ignorance of what’s at stake in immigrant communities of color and our efforts to cement humane, sustainable living conditions. It is not the first example of gentrifiers using appropriated histories of violent oppression to garner cultural or artistic clout. This exhibition is a hostile act towards communities on the front lines fighting tenant harassment, cultural appropriation and erasure.

The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown. We cannot underscore enough how offensive this is to the people who live and work here. The artist’s choice to ignore the presence of a thriving community filled with families and businesses reduces their existence to poverty porn. This has a real and negative impact on how Chinatown is perceived by non- residents, politicians and developers who view low-income communities as wastelands ripe for investment and exploitation.

We firmly believe in the transformative power of art and culture to amplify--not undermine--the struggles to protect and preserve our neighborhoods, our homes and the businesses who serve us. As an art collective, we are outraged at this public display of privilege masquerading as art. Your appalling exhibition should be shut down.


#JamesCohan #ShutItDown

We are horrified by your actions,

Chinatown Art Brigade

OPEN CALL: A Call to Action! Chinatown Art Brigade Calls for Artwork and Messages of Refuge, Resilience, Resistance - Deadline April 28th!

This is an open call for entries – messages, images, and digital art – from artists and activist/organizing groups who are fighting Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda as well as those who are resisting gentrification across the U.S. and globe. Community- curated selections will be projected publicly and shared on social media as part of Chinatown Art Brigade’s Spring 2017 outdoor evening on May 12th in NYC's Chinatown's. This event is organized with CAAAV and other collaborators, including The Illuminator – an art-activist collective that stages public projection-interventions across the U.S.

MAY 12, 2017

• Submit an image, photo, digital art, video, or message in digital format only from your community that addresses themes of refuge, resilience and resistance
• Video entry time limit: 30 seconds - 1 minute • FILE FORMATS: jpg, tiff, mov, mp4, pdf • Please provide a title and credit line • Multilingual messages and captions highly encouraged
• Must be original content; copyrighted or trademarked images strictly prohibited
• There are no fees or compensation for submissions
• By submitting your design, you permit Chinatown Art Brigade to display your work in a public interactive projection event and on social media. 
• Submit digital files to: chinatownartbrigade@gmail.com
SUBMISSIONS DUE: APRIL 28, 2017           

Chinatown Art Brigade stands united with all groups – within and outside our communities – who are at risk and fighting for their civil and human rights. We are expanding our ongoing anti- displacement work to include projections that will actively oppose the ban on refugees and immigration from Muslim countries. This is an open call for entries – messages, images, digital art & videos – from progressive groups fighting Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda.

The Chinatown Art Brigade is a collective of Asian American artists, media makers, activists, and tenants with roots in NYC Chinatown. Our work is driven by a deep love for our community and the fundamental belief that fighting against racial and economic inequity is central to our cultural and art making process. Our creative process is women-led and community driven, with self- determination as a leading principle in our work. Since its founding in 2015, CAB has facilitated a series of community-led responses to gentrification and displacement, created in partnership with the Chinatown Tenants Union, a program of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. While change is inevitable, gentrification is not. CAB and CAAAV are working together to pressure NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration to approve a community-led rezoning plan that will manage neighborhood growth and benefit the working class and low-income residents who want to continue to live in our city.

Chinatown Art Brigade recognizes that displacement is not just a Chinatown issue. Luxury housing and widespread art washing threaten to displace generations of families and small businesses who are the heart and soul of communities in urban and rural areas. As artists and activists, we recognize the urgency to act now to protect our communities from an uncertain future. As Asian Americans, we have been targets of policy decisions designed to deny us citizenship and discriminate against us on the basis of race. We believe we have a responsibility to show the world that we will not let America’s racist history repeat itself. We are expanding our ongoing work to include projections that will actively oppose the ban on refugees and immigration from Muslim countries.

Chinatown Art Brigade: National Call for Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s Show - Deadline is Nov 9th

We've been calling out the gentrification in Manhattan Chinatown, and now we invite YOU to include your communities' voices in our upcoming interactive workshop at the Smithsonian APA Center's CTRL+ALT: Culture Lab on Imagined Futures. Check out the call below, and peep Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's artist line-up this weekend! Here's the FB invite  https://www.facebook.com/SmithsonianAPA/videos/680192628824077/

Chinatown Art Brigade National Call

Over the past few months, Chinatown Art Brigade has joined forces with Chinatown Tenants Union of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, The Illuminator, the W.O.W. Project, Decolonize This Place at Artists Space, and others in NYC to call attention to the community rezoning campaign and issues of tenant displacement and gentrification in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
In the spirit of engaging and building with communities beyond New York City, this national call for digital submissions seeks to collectively inspire, exchange histories and strategies, and share our visions for the future.

Selected submissions will be projected on location and shared on social media as part of Chinatown Art Brigade’s interactive workshop at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s
CTRL+ALT: Culture Lab on Imagined Futures
November 12-13, 2016 | 11am-9pm @ 477 Broadway, SoHo/Chinatown, NYC SMITHSONIANAPA.ORG/ALT | @smithsonianapa | #CTRLALT


Submit an image, photo, or message about your community that responds to
one of the prompts below:                                                   

  • The PAST: Honoring our community’s stories and memories 
  • The PRESENT: Resistance and resilience within your community
  • The FUTURE:  You or your community’s vision for the future

• Original photos, images, or designs in digital format only
• FILE FORMATS: jpg, tiff, mov, mp4, pdf
• Copyrighted or trademarked images are strictly prohibited
• Please provide a credit line
• Multilingual messages and captions highly encouraged
• Submit digital files to: chinatownartbrigade@gmail.com

• There are no fees or compensation for submissions
• By submitting your design, you permit Chinatown Art Brigade to display your
work in a public interactive projection workshop and on social media.
SUBMISSIONS DUE: November 9, 2016 (by midnight)
# # # CHINATOWN IS NOT FOR SALE • CHINATOWN IS NOT FOR SALE # # # Chinatown Art Brigade is a cultural collective of artists, media makers, and activists creating
art and media to advance social justice.



Chinatown Is Not For Sale 绝不出卖中国城

By s.w. Chinatown Not 4 Sale Tumblr


那么,“绝不出卖中国城”实际上把着重点放在了我们老百姓身上。政府和发展商的意图再清楚不过了,不过是想方设法地把中国城作为下一个贵族化的目标 - - 广建高楼广厦,引进豪华建筑。而我们如果能把咱们华裔、华侨的声音扩大,让政府和发展商知道我们不会轻易放弃对中国城廉价房屋和小商业的保卫甚至于我们站到一边,那么保护中国城就能成为现实。

中国城艺术队就是一个通过艺术来扩大民众声音的小组。在艺术队的新项目—“坚守家园 HERE TO STAY”中,几名艺术家结合中国城的住客与有心的志愿者们用投影的方式把住客想说的话广播布满整个社区。从七月末开始,我们在每个星期六下午聚集,了解了画地图的政治性、以小组的方式细致观摩了中国城繁华表面下的创伤与变化、用做纪录片,讲故事,做艺术的方式记录和分享了我们的行程。



Chinatown Art Brigade Receives the 2016 A Blade of Grass Fellowship

Chinatown Art Brigade (made up of Betty Yu, Tomie Arai and ManSee Kong) received the 2016 A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art.

2016 A Blade of Grass Fellows

2016 A Blade of Grass Fellows

Working collectively as CHINATOWN ART BRIGADE, artist Tomie Arai and filmmakers ManSee Kong and Betty Yu will create Here to Stay, a project addressing gentrification, displacement and resilience in NYC’s Chinatown through community-led workshops and a public projection campaign incorporating original art and oral history in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

From ARTNews

A Blade of Grass, the organization devoted to art that promotes social change, has named its 2016 ABOG Fellows for Socially Engaged Art. Each fellow will now receive $20,000, which can be used in any number of ways to support their respective projects. They range from Simone Leigh’s Home Economics, a series of workshops intended to foster critical thinking for black girls in New York City, to Xenobia Bailey’s Paradise Under Reconstruction, which combines elements of design and urban planning.

This is the third group of ABOG Fellows; the first was in 2014. The 2016 batch of fellows sees the introduction of the ABOG-David Rockefeller Fund Joint Fellowship in Criminal Justice, which is specifically awarded to artists whose work is involved with the criminal justice system. That fellowship’s winners are Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin, for Freedom Chamber, their collaboration with New Orleans organizations that allows for the production of sound sculptures that reflect the experiences of incarcerated people.

“These are artists who are changing what art is, who it’s for, and what it does,” Deborah Fisher, the executive director of A Blade of Grass, said in a statement. “We nurture these artists in a way that is specifically geared toward increasing the effectiveness and visibility of their work, and understanding its value both within the contemporary art discourse and the broader culture.”

Below is the list of fellows and winning projects.

  • Xenobia Bailey, Paradise Under Reconstruction
  • Black Quantum Futurism, Community Futurisms: Time & Memory in North Philly; individual artists: Camae Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips
  • Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist, People’s Reentry Think Tank
  • Chinatown Art Brigade, Here to Stay; individual artists: Tomie Arai, ManSee Kong, and Betty Yu
  • Joseph Cullier, The Black School
  • Simone Leigh, Home Economics
  • Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin, Freedom Chamber
  • Rulan Tangen, Redgeneration
  • Frances Whitehead, Fruit Futures Initiative Gary