More Than 100 Artists Clash With Beijing Police Over Demolition of Their Art Studios

A fracas occurred on March 29 when police went ahead with the demolition of artist studios in Songzhuang, Beijing, a longtime artists’ community, despite protests from resident artists.

Two studios, belonging to Shen Jingdong and Cao Zhiwen, were demolished, while more than 100 artists feuded with the same number of police officers as they attempted to stop the razing of the buildings.

Several injuries and the arrests of two protestors were reported, according to ArtAsiaPacific.

An image posted to Twitter shows Shen Jingdong held to the ground with a metal pitchfork by the police during the conflict, and a further YouTube video depicts a protestor shouting at guards as they silently stand shoulder-to-shoulder, forming a wall.

The belongings of the artists were thrown on the street, and no payment will be offered to cover the costs of the damaged or destroyed property. Government officials blamed illegal construction as the cause for the leveling of the studios, though a steady rise in rent since the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been said to contribute to pressure for such evictions and demolitions in the area.

Shen reportedly bought the two and a half-acre piece of land in 2009 for the price of RMB 112,500 ($16,300).

In another string of incidents, on March 21, the artist Hua Yong returned to his studio in Songzhuang to find many of his items having been rummaged through or destroyed. Two other local figures, the poet Wang Zang and feminist activist Ye Haiyan, were also evicted from their homes in the same neighborhood.

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