Feb 6 - April 7, 2019: Betty Yu's "(Dis)Placed in Sunset Park" - Part of BRIC Biennial

The opening of a group exhibition where my (Dis)Placed in Sunset Park work is Wednesday, Feb 6th from 7-9pm -part of the BRIC Biennial in Brooklyn, NYC (at the BRIC House on 647 Fulton Street, enter on Rockwell Place) in the Project Room on the ground level.

The show will be up until April 7th.

Betty will also be presenting on an artist talk/ panel discussion "Art and Community Activism" as a part of the exhibition on Fri, March 8th at 7pm at BRIC.

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CLICK HERE for info about the" “Virtual and Real Estate” show at BRIC’s Biennial (February 6-April 7)

CLICK HERE for more info about the March 8th “Art and Community Activism” Panel

More about her work on view, (Dis)Placed in Sunset Park:

(Dis)Placed in Sunset Park is an interactive multimedia exhibition that features short videos of Latinx and Chinese (im)migrants, workers and residents in Brooklyn, New York’s diverse Sunset Park neighborhood. The common theme among their stories is the shared narrative of migration to the U.S., their journey to Sunset Park and their fears of displacement as a result of gentrification. Each story is grounded in the subject’s own sense of home, sanctuary and refuge that they have found in Sunset Park. The title refers to the way people are being “displaced in” their own community as it changes around them; and to the some are being crowded into smaller quarters within Sunset Park as well.

My family was part of the early wave of Chinese-American families to move into Sunset Park back in the late 1970’s. Using myself as an entry point into the exhibition and project, I document the impact of gentrification on the cultural fabric, community life and changing racial demographics of Sunset Park through my own story and the stories of others. (Dis)Placed in Sunset Park also examines and interrogates the shifting borders of Sunset Park as it relates to the changing boundaries for plans created by real estate speculators and developers. The mapping aspect of this project highlights contrasting definitions of legitimate space and belonging.

More info about the Virtual and Real Estate group exhibition at the BRIC Biennial (on view from Feb 6 - April 7):

In conjunction with the BRIC Biennial: Volume III, South Brooklyn Edition, the Virtual and Real Estate group exhibition features work by artists Pastiche Lumumba, Daniel Bejar, and Betty Yu, that expresses the conundrums that arise from living in an age where the simulated is increasingly confused with the real. Although "estate" has previously been defined as fixed physical properties, the exhibition troubles our notions of property, ownership, circulation, space, and most fundamentally, what it means to be "real." The Internet provides marginalized communities a virtual space for subversion and play, meanwhile distracting from the physical realities of gentrification and land rezoning. From Lumumba's embalmed memes to Bejar's performative drawing of invisible geography, to Yu's archive of stories by communities affected by gentrification, these works challenges the absurdity of place and placelessness to bear on the chronological depth of lived experience. Virtual Real Estate was curated by Connie Kang and Danielle Wu of An/Other, a group of artists, writers, and curators advocating for Asians and Asian-Americans in the arts. 

Studio International: Betty Yu: ‘Wherever you are, there are folks fighting for their lives’

New York-based artist Betty Yu talks about the gentrification of her neighbourhood in Brooklyn and what galleries can do to help


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Multimedia artist and activist Betty Yu was born in in 1977 in New York City, the youngest of four sisters. When her parents moved to the US from Hong Kong, her mother, Sau Kwan, found work in New York’s garment factories. “Mum worked in more than two dozen factories over a 30-year period,” Yu tells me. “She moved around quite a bit in union and non-union shops. The unionised shops sometimes practised even worse conditions, so it really made no difference.” Yu explored the terrible environment her mother – and many thousands like her – endured, in a documentary called Resilience, which debuted at the Margaret Mead Film Festival in 2000. The film also touched on Kwan’s leadership in the fight against exploitation and the hunger strike Yu’s sister Virginia participated in to draw attention to the exploitative environment in which Chinatown workers found themselves.

An archival photo display of Betty Yu's multimedia project (Dis)Placed in Sunset Park. Open Source Gallery, New York, 2018. Photo: Betty Yu.

An archival photo display of Betty Yu's multimedia project (Dis)Placed in Sunset Park. Open Source Gallery, New York, 2018. Photo: Betty Yu.

Things got worse for the garment workers of New York after 9/11. “A lot of people lost their jobs in Lower Manhattan because Chinatown was so close to the Twin Towers,” Yu explains. “A lot of the trucks couldn’t get in to pick up and drop off garments, and that provided a window of opportunity for the real-estate developers to move in. It was at that point that a lot of workers ended up getting laid off.” Fortunately, her mother found work in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where Yu and her sisters had grown up.

Much of Yu’s work centres on her Brooklyn neighbourhood, but she has also made a number of short documentaries about social justice and gender. In 2015, she co-founded the Chinatown Art Brigade(CAB) with artists Tomie Arai and ManSee Kong. CAB, a collective that seeks to precipitate change through art, also collaborates with the local tenants’ union to tackle the negative impact of gentrification on Sunset Park. Of course, New York City is not the only place experiencing the effects of what some are calling modern colonisation. Issues of economic and social displacement are global, and the art world, Yu argues, is complicit in pricing out local communities. So what can be done? I spoke to Yu about gentrification and what artists and galleries can do to help.

Emily Spicer: After the hunger strikes featured in your documentary Resilience, did the conditions in Chinatown factories improve?

Betty Yu: The conditions are still bad. The sweatshops are coming back with similar conditions that my mum worked under, but not in such large numbers, so there’s not a lot of media attention because folks think they’re all overseas now.


Open City Magazine: Mapping Displacement and Resistance in Sunset Park

How arts and tech can preserve intergenerational neighborhood stories and fight back against gentrification.

By Huiying Bernice Chan


Teresa Gutierrez’s cadences in Spanish pulsated through the television screen as she described the changes happening in Sunset Park, her neighborhood in Brooklyn.

“The rents are so high that our community can’t find decent housing or a healthy place to live for themselves,” Gutierrez, a long-time resident and immigrant rights organizer, said. “We need to organize to protect ourselves to know our rights.”

Gutierrez was among numerous Sunset Park residents who were interviewed by multimedia artist and activist Betty Yu for her interactive, multimedia exhibit, “(Dis)Placed in Sunset Park.”

“Sunset Park is home to one of the largest populations of Chinese residents in New York City, exceeding the number of those living in Manhattan’s Chinatown.”

Yu, a long-time Sunset Park resident, opened her exhibit highlighting the accelerated gentrification and community resistance in Sunset Park in September at the Open Source Gallery, in the heart of where she conducted her interviews.

Attendees were immersed in a curation of photographs, maps, and short films that brought to life stories of how Latinx and Chinese residents have created home in Sunset Park, intertwined with their concerns and organizing work against displacement today.

Sunset Park is home to one of the largest populations of Chinese residents in New York City, exceeding the number of those living in Manhattan’s Chinatown. They mostly live in the 8th Avenue area of the neighborhood, while Latinx residents live in the 5th Avenue vicinity. Today, about 50 percent of residents are Latinx, from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and other parts of Latin America, while 40 percent are Asians, mostly Chinese. There is also a growing Arab and Muslim community from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, and other countries in the Middle East.

In the last decade, the neighborhood has been a prime target of real estate developers that has led to accelerated displacement. Developers have been pushing to change zoning and land-use laws in Sunset Park so they can build more luxury housing and commercial buildings, especially in areas like Industry City.

A complex of former manufacturing buildings owned by Jamestown Market, Industry City is one example of a project that is already displacing long-time residents, especially in the Latinx segment of the neighborhood below 5th Avenue. A $1-billion venture that spans seven waterfront blocks from 32nd to 39th Streets, Industry City is being designed to be one of the country’s largest innovation-maker hubs. The development comes at a large cost to the neighborhood, as it attracts college-educated professionals and simultaneously pushes out working-class residents.

“A lot of my friends in the 4th Avenue side are gone, because they’ve been displaced,” Yu said. “It’s really weird walking around there. Because what’s happening there is about to hit the Chinatown part,” she continued.


Betty wins the 2017 Documentary Film Award from James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism for "Three Tours"

Betty received the 2017 Documentary Film Award from James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism for "Three Tours". Her documentary film, "Three Tours" captures the lives of three U.S. military veterans, Nicole Goodwin, Ramon Mejia and Ryan Holleran, as they work to heal their wounds and battle with PTSD resulting from their deployments in Iraq. The film follows their transformation from U.S. military trained soldiers to agents of change advocating for proper mental health treatment of veterans and an end to unjust wars.

In the coming year Betty will be focusing on getting the film distributed and screened out in veteran communities, rural and communities of color that are most impacted by militarism and this "economic draft". She also hopes these powerful stories can be used as anti-military recruitment tools in schools. Now more than ever she feel it's important to get this film out there as Trump increases funding for the military to wage unjust wars, occupy foreign nations while accelerating his Islamophobia, hate and war mongering.

Read more here: http://ima-mfa.hunter.cuny.edu/ima-news/ima-alumna-betty-yu-ima-documentary-winner/