A protester’s sign outside Omer Fast’s exhibit at the James Cohan Gallery.CreditAndrew R. Chow for The New York Times
By Andrew R. Chow
Yet another bitter battle over art, appropriation and censorship is being waged this week — this time over a depiction of a Chinatown waiting room.
The Berlin-based artist Omer Fast presented his 3D film “August” at the James Cohan Gallery’s Grand Street location starting in September. The film dealt with the German photographer August Sander and Nazism, but Mr. Fast hoped to better integrate the installation with the surrounding community: to “transform the gallery facade and interior into what they were like before gentrification,” according to the gallery’s news release.
So he put up a yellow facade with faded red Chinese characters and constructed a waiting room, in a similar spirit to the airport loungesand doctor’s waiting rooms he had devised in Berlin, Minneapolis and other places. This installation was especially meant to conjure a Chinatown bus stop, with its mismatched tiles, hanging red lanterns and unglamorous folding chair setup. A representative for the Cohan Gallery said Mr. Fast visited the space and surrounding area several times to get a feel for the aesthetic.
But the Chinatown community saw it differently. “This exhibition is a hostile act towards communities on the front lines fighting tenant harassment, cultural appropriation and erasure,” the Chinatown Art Brigade wrote in an open letter. “The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown.”
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/arts/artists-chinatown-depiction-ignites-protests.html