Protestors accused the James Cohan Gallery of hosting a racist exhibition that reduces the surrounding immigrant community to "poverty porn."

Protestors accused the James Cohan Gallery of hosting a racist exhibition that reduces the surrounding immigrant community to "poverty porn."

By Allegra Hobbs

LOWER EAST SIDE — Dozens of protesters descended on a Grand Street gallery Sunday, saying an installation mimicking a Chinatown business amounts to racist "poverty porn" and ridicules the struggling immigrants often displaced by newcomers such as art galleries.

Jerusalem-born video artist Omer Fast has transformed the exterior and interior of the James Cohan Gallery on the border of Chinatown into "the waiting room of a Chinatown business with an eclectic aesthetic," according to a description on the gallery's website

The description calls the installation an "ambiguous gesture" intended to reflect on gentrification, representing "a futile attempt to roll back the clock and speak about community, citizenship and identity" by turning the space into what it may have looked like before.

The space features holes in the walls, a damaged awning, broken ATMs and damaged, mismatched tiles — an insensitive display local activists said reduces the surrounding immigrant community to "poverty porn."

"The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown," stated a letter from artist collective Chinatown Art Brigade, read aloud through a megaphone by co-founder Betty Yu inside the gallery Sunday as the gathered protestors echoed her words in unison.

"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."

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE here: https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20171016/lower-east-side/chinatown-art-brigade-racist-gallery-protest