The decision to fire Gary Xu Gang, one of three curators of the biennale, came after a professor at Wesleyan University claimed on social media that Xu has been sexually assaulting women going back 20 years, including when he was an associate professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The accusation was posted on a Chinese online forum, and although that post was later deleted, it prompted a woman to offer what she said was photo evidence of the misconduct—she posted pictures of bruises on her face she claimed came from Xu, suffered while they were in a relationship during his tenure at UIUC. She also shared her emergency request for protection that was filed with local authorities. Xu has denied all allegations, but after an internal investigation, the biennale decided to fire him. “Given that the center’s attitude and mission is to spread positive energy of art, we, after deliberate consideration, decided to terminate our cooperation with Xu Gang for the 2018 Shenzhen Biennale,” the statement read. Speaking with the Art Newspaper
, Xu again the denied the allegations. “The nature of the online mob under the name of sexual harassment is terrible,” he said. But several individuals contacted by the paper who made allegations against Xu stood by their accounts, though remained anonymous, with one saying she was “still frightened” but willing to testify against the curator, according to the report.