Bank Gallery

Chinese Government Evicts Shanghai’s Bank Gallery from State-Owned Building

According to Lisa Movius of Art Newspaper, Shanghai’s Bank Gallery is the latest cultural organization to be evicted from its building due to a policy that bans private entities from renting state-owned properties, which was instituted as an anticorruption measure. Forced to move out on June 19, the gallery was only given six days’ notice.

James Cohen Gallery’s Shanghai outpost closed its doors last year, and the local jazz venue JZ Club and the Video Bureau in Guangzhou recently shut down as a result of the same policy.

After Bank Gallery was informed it had to leave, it released the following statement: “For two and half years we were frequently threatened with eviction, but like all government policies in China we figured they’d change with the wind. The wind was good to us up till now. Sadly, we have been ordered to leave. We have less than a week to vacate and are too panicked to be heartbroken . . . but we’re still heartbroken.”

Established in July 2013 by MABSOCIETY—an international curatorial and consultancy firm founded by American curator Mathieu Borysevicz in 2012—the gallery is located near the city’s historic Bund area. It is housed in a run-down former Bank Union building that was built in 1925 on Xianggang Lu Street.

Borysevicz said, “I feel that together with our artists we breathed new life into this amazing carcass of a building . . . We proved that a successful art space needn’t be a glossy, industrial white cube but could retain some messy character of its own.”

Bank Gallery has organized exhibitions by artists such as Xu Bing, Zhang Enli, Double Fly, Isaac Julien, Paul McCarthy, Chen Tianzhuo, Ai Weiwei, and Geng Yini.

The curator and former contributing writer for Artforum confirmed that the gallery is “frantically looking” for a new space. Borysevicz added, “We will still be as anti-bling-bling and alternative as possible.”