A multi-sensory retrospective that explores the youth gangs and counterculture of 1970’s Chinatown in conversation with archival materials from The Museum of Chinese in America.
Before street taggers were chalking homages to rent-hike casualties and community activist groups were demanding that Mayor de Blasio halt the corporate-condo craze, the blocks east of SoHo’s Cast-Iron District and below Canal Street were marked by blood spilled at the hands of the Ghost Shadows and a tenuous trust in “Mayor of Chinatown” Man Bun Lee. How does lawlessness in Chinatown persist and shape the dynamics of an increasingly intermingled community? Challenging stereotypes about the neighborhood and its inhabitants begins with asking the right questions. While broader political and economic forces of a bankrupt New York leveraged crime to reshape immigrant communities in the 70’s, we're now contending with a culture of commerce. But to reckon with our present we must first immerse ourselves in a past culture of fear. LAWLESS uses alternative artistic practices to intersect the politics of place and memory in this historically isolated and misrepresented space. Today, we witness the opening of New York's once “forbidden fortress” as government policies that champion “cleaning up” Chinatown allow for more top-down development and displacement. Here, gentrification meets an untold history that compels us to remember.
Watercolor and sketches by Boy Kong || Gitler &____
Digital installation by AsianGirl // Victoria Elle
Video by Eric Jenkins-Sahlin
Photography by Ali Glatt
Sound mixing by Chinese Man
Calligraphy by Sean Gilder
Researched and curated by Michelle Marie