With gentrification accelerating citywide, over 100 galleries have opened in Chinatown. Approximately 60% of these have arrived in the last three years. Rents have risen to an all time high and low-income Chinatown tenants and small business owners are being pushed out. Hyper-development—in the form of luxury condos, hotels and galleries—is putting the lives and livelihoods of long-term residents at risk.
Gentrification is often the result of many overlapping social and economic factors. Yet, as evidenced in SoHo, Chelsea and, more recently, Bushwick, art galleries tend to be among the first businesses to gentrify working class or industrial districts. How, accordingly, might we speak to the complicity of art and artists within this process? Can artists be an ally in the struggle against gentrification and displacement? What, if any, are the points of unity between artists, galleries and the local community?
This discussion, the second in a series of public conversations presented by Chinatown Art Brigade following "Chinatown: New York's Newest Gallery Scene?" at Wing on Wo & Co. in July, will explore the role that artists can play in preserving, protecting and fighting for our neighborhoods. Central to the discussion will be a working document promoting ways in which artists, galleries and other cultural institutions can show their solidarity with longtime Chinatown residents.
This event is part of Decolonize This Place, a three-month project by MTL+ that sees Artists Space Books & Talks converted into a movement space that is action-oriented around indigenous struggle, black liberation, Free Palestine, global wage workers and de-gentrification.
MTL+ is a collective of artists and organizers comprised of Nitasha Dhillon, Amin Husain, Yates McKee, Andrew Ross, Kyle Goen, Amy Weng, Aiko Maya Roudette, Marz Saffore and Samer Abulaela
Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) is a cultural collective of artists, media makers and activists creating art and media to advance social justice. Our work is driven by the fundamental belief that collaboration with and accountability to those communities that are directly impacted by racial, social and economic inequities must be central to any cultural, art, or media making process.
Chinatown Art Brigade is collaborating with the Chinatown Tenants Union of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities (www.caaav.org), a grassroots nonprofit that organizes low-income pan-Asian communities around tenant rights, fighting evictions and displacement.
Peter Kwong is Distinguished Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College, as well as Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is a pioneer in Asian American studies, a leading scholar of immigration, and an award-winning journalist and filmmaker.
Margaret Lee (b 1980, Bronx, NY) has organized and exhibited work at numerous venues domestically and internationally including The Windows, Barneys, NY; Concentrations HK: Margaret Lee, curated by Gabriel Ritter, Duddell’s x DMA, Hong Kong; Made in L.A, 2014 Hammer Museum Biennial, Los Angeles; 2013 Biennale de Lyon; de, da do...da, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Caza, curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Bronx Museum, New York; NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami; New Pictures of Common Objects, curated by Christopher Lew, MoMA PS1, New York, and Looking Back, White Columns, New York, amongst others. In 2009, Lee founded the artist-run space 179 Canal and is currently a partner in the gallery 47 Canal.
Liz Moy is an artist and activist from Chinatown, New York. She holds a BFA in Studio Art from NYU Steinhardt and is passionate about the intersection of gentrification and cultural production.
Juan Puntes is a co-founder of WhiteBox.
Julien Terrell has been working in the environmental justice movement for nearly a decade. He’s organized from the Bronx to Buffalo, he’s done solidarity and coalition work around climate justice in Bolivia and Cuba. Terrell is a lead organizer at Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a youth development organization where he helps area youth build connections to the land through urban gardening, a fruits and vegetables market, and safer green spaces.
Betty Yu is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, educator and activist, and is a co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade. Betty received the 2016 SOAPBOX Artist Award from the Laundromat Project, and is a 2016 A Blade of Grass Fellow for Socially Engaged Art for her project with Chinatown Art Brigade. She holds a BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and a MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College.