Chinese artists fight studio eviction
Ousted artists protest in style
By Chris Gill. From Armory daily edition
Published online: 04 March 2011
shanghai. There’s no place like home. Artists in Shanghai fighting the city’s plan to evict them from their studios are organising a protest inspired by Dorothy and Toto’s odyssey in the Land of Oz.
Over 30 artists based in the 696 Weihai Road complex were due to be evicted at the end of the month. They have mounted a media campaign that has earned them a possible reprieve of a month or two.
The artists, along with members of staff from the Shanghai Art Museum, plan to stage their “Wizard of Oz” themed protest at the end of April, under the direction of Zhang Li Ping, the curator of the Shanghai Biennial. Zhang says there are many similarities between Dorothy and Toto’s struggle to return home and the artists’ plight. Previous colourful protests by the artists and their supporters have drawn large crowds of spectators.
The 696 Weihai Road artist complex is housed in a former mansion that was turned into a factory after the Chinese Revolution. It has provided a home to the artists for the past four years and has space for over 70 studios.
The artists moved in when the building became vacant following the downfall of Chen Liangyu, the former Shanghai communist party secretary and politburo member, who controlled the building. When the disgraced politician was sentenced to 18 years in jail for embezzlement, the building became an asset of the Shanghai social security fund.
The artists hope to turn the building into permanent studio space if they win their fight
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