Berlin based, contemporary video artist Omer Fast has come under fire for his latest art project, entitled August.
Omer created an installation at the James Cohan Gallery in New York that seemed to satire a derelict Chinatown business that exhibition goers can walk through to see the artist’s video work in the backroom.
Art collective Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) a cultural collective of artists who aim to create art in collaboration with or with a focus on those impacted by racial, social and economic inequities initiated a protest on Sunday 15th October. They had a problem with how the installation strived to return the Lower East Side space to its pre-gentrified state by including objects that have been previously used to stereotype Chinatown.
CAB released a statement saying “This exhibition is a hostile act towards communities on the front lines fighting tenant harassment, cultural appropriation and erasure. The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown.”
The James Cohan Gallery noted how “Omer Fast’s work provides an intentionally-uncomfortable look inward—both at himself, an immigrant to the US, and at the Gallery, a new arrival to an established neighborhood.” They continued to say how the fact that “this work would generate such a variety of strong reactions—positive and negative, reinforces the paradox it is trying to capture. We not only take these expressions seriously; we’ve tried to honor them. People are free to draw their own conclusions about art, but they should also be given the opportunity to do so—without censorship, barriers or intimidation.”
The line between censorship free expression and causing deep offence is a thin one. The exhibition will run until October 29th, to find out more about it, click here.