798 Art District in the north-east of the city is Beijing’s “SoHo” and is home to a large arts community. Paintings, ceramics, and street art are scattered throughout the area and it’s ex-industrial factories provide artists with flexible open space for arts installations both big and small. The most important of these art galleries include the expansive 798 Space Gallery, Long March Space and UCCA (China’s largest privately funded art museum).
The charm of the area is preserved in its post-industrial feel and the Maoist inspired art slogans and original features scattered throughout the converted factories and shop floors.
As an arts community 798 has both endured and suffered because of its success. Initially development pressures almost saw the district completely redeveloped however, successful campaigning and the growth in tourism resulted in the reclassification of the area as a legitimate art district supported by the government.Nevertheless rising land prices and development pressures remain. As a result many of the original artists of the neighbourhood who set up studios in these former military factories, including Factory 798 which originally produced electronics have been priced out due to increasing rents. Only a handful of the most successful of these artists continue to live and work in the district.
“Creating a unique backdrop to display the art”
“Galleries both big and small sell and display art works”
798 continues to thrive despite the rising prices. Today the district is filled with not only art galleries but also gift shops, book shops, restaurants, cafés, artsy clothing stores and of course street vendors. 798 Art District is one of Beijing’s most popular tourist destinations and certainly China’s largest and most famous arts district.
One of the highlights of the district is its change ability. The installations move, change and evolve. The details, textures and colours of the works of art, the setting and the people offer the viewer new interesting sensory stimuli around every corner.
Taking photos is a must. The street art unique, weird and unusual is accessible and allows you to participate and interact with this very Chinese art experience.
“Reform and Opening Up” (改革开放 – gǎi gé kāi fàng)
798 Art District can be found at Jiuxianquao Road and Jiuxianqiao North Road, Beijing. Entrance is free and it is open each day from 10:00am-6:00pm.
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