In the past week, artists in two of Beijing’s art districts have been evicted by police, ostensibly as part of a campaign against organized crime that will see both districts—Luomahu and Huantie—demolished. On Sunday, notices were posted throughout Hauntie informing artists they would have a week to move out, and some 30 police officers in riot gear moved through the area to begin evicting artists from their studios; these noticest likened artists to “unstable factors” and “security problems.” On Wednesday, riot police began evictions in Luomahu as well.
Canon Duan, an artist who has had a studio in Huantie for four years, told The Art Newspaper:
They are driving us all away on the excuse of cleaning up the underworld. [. . .] We're not prepared at all. And no one has explained it to us. [. . .] We invested a lot of money in the renovation, we paid the rent, we were here for many years. But there is no option for compensation, nor any acceptable explanation. [. . .] We have no human rights here.
The sudden eviction and demolition of artists’ studios en masse is not exactly a new phenomenon in Beijing. Last summer, without warning, a demolition crew started smashing Ai Weiwei’s studio in the city. A few weeks before that, spaces in the city’s Caochangdi art district were informed that their buildings had been marked for demolition and they would need to move out by the end of the month—echoing studio evictions that had taken place in the area a year earlier.