Vitriolic Sendoff Planned Tomorrow to Mark Conclusion of Controversial Chinatown Gallery Exhibit
“Decolonize this place,” the adhesive tape reads. Handbills stuck to the gates of 291 Grand Street alert the community to another action in opposition to a gallery exhibit that’s galvanized Chinatown.
Capitalizing on momentum from recent press coverage, the Chinatown Art Brigade is again rallying the troops to protest Omer Fast’s exhibit on its final weekend at the James Cohan Gallery. It’ll be a public display of “good riddance,” which area groups are calling out as being racist and vehicle for gentrification. “Stand with the Chinatown community on the last weekend of this exhibition and send a strong message to the artist and the 100+ galleries that have opened in Chinatown in recent years,” notes the flyers. The gathering is planned for tomorrow at 2pm.
The central component of the exhibit – a 2016 video work entitled August – is framed in controversy. It sits amidst a transformed Grand Street storefront meant to resemble a stereotypical Chinatown commercial spot. Basically, a ridicule and reinforcement of negative tropes like “uncleanliness, otherness, and blight” often associated with the neighborhood. The space tries to mimic a business in disrepair, complete with faded awning, broken ATMs, cracked linoleum floors, and plastic bags on door handles.
James Cohan Gallery drew immedate criticism out of the gate, but forged ahead undeterred. In the end, the gallery got its press for a few weeks, and the Chinatown Art Brigade further made a name for itself.