Artists Space

Chinatown Is Not for Sale

October 22, 2016, 7pm

Peter Kwong
Liz Moy
Margaret Lee, 47 Canal
Juan Puntes, WhiteBox
Betty Yu, Chinatown Art Brigade

A flyer titled "Sites of Mass Displacement," depicting a map of Chinatown with pins on every gallery in the neighborhood. It asks, "Is this what a neighborhood
Liz Moy, Chinatown Gallery Map, 2016. [A flyer titled "Sites of Mass Displacement," depicting a map of Chinatown with pins on every gallery in the neighborhood. It asks, "Is this what a neighborhood 'untouched' by gentrification looks like?" Text at the bottom of the flyer notes "There are currently over 100 galleries occupying Chinatown, Two Bridges, and the Lower East Side. Can a neighborhood be both a holdout to gentrification and the new art enclave?"]

"Please join Artists Space, Chinatown Art Brigade and Decolonize This Place for a town hall discussion that will bring together local residents, activists, gallery owners and artists for a candid dialogue about the growing impact of art galleries in Chinatown.

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."

– MTL+

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.

WhiteBox, a New York-centric, international non-profit alternative art space, was founded by Juan Puntes with the support of a small group of artists, intellectual thinkers, and curators in 1998 in the Chelsea art district of Manhattan. WhiteBox has ever since been dedicated to presenting a continuous stream of original in-house and guest-curated cross-disciplinary contemporary projects focusing on a wide variety of art practices. WhiteBox works continuously in conjunction with neighboring nonprofits, schools, public institutions and grassroots organizations to promote art projects rooted in and relevant to the real world. Its current location is 329 Broome Street.

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.

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 (, a grassroots nonprofit that organizes low-income pan-Asian communities around tenant rights, fighting evictions and displacement.

Facebook: @ChinatownArtBrigade
Twitter: @CtownArtBrigade
Instagram: @ChinatownArtBrigade




This discussion is part of Decolonize This Place, a three-month project by MTL+ on invitation of Common Practice New York hosted at Artists Space Books & Talks. For the purposes of this project, 55 Walker Street has been converted by MTL+ into an action-oriented community space around the issues of: De-Gentrification, Indigenous Struggle, Black Liberation, Free Palestine and Global Wage Workers. Views and opinions expressed in this project are not necessarily those of Artists Space or members of Common Practice New York.

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