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Artists and Police Clash over Beijing Studio Demolition

A conflict between Chinese authorities and artists erupted on Wednesday, March 29, as Shen Jingdong and Cao Zhiwen tried to prevent the demolition of their residence and studio in Songzhuang, Beijing, according to Katherine Volk of ArtAsiaPacific. Multiple protesters were injured and two were arrested after around one hundred local artists answered Shen and Cao’s call for help on the social-media platform WeChat.

Despite the artists’ efforts to try to halt the demolition, their belongings were dumped on the street and the studio was razed by the afternoon. Shen bought the two-and-a-half-acre property, which is located in one of Beijing’s largest artist communities, in 2009. Government officials are claiming the building was condemned because of illegal construction and did not offer the artists any compensation.

Due to a steady increase in property values since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there has been a rise in evictions and demolitions in Songzhuang, which is home to thousands of artists. Poet Wang Zang and feminist activist Ye Haiyan are among the artists who have also recently lost their homes. They allege that the government pressured their landlords to evict them.