|The 798 Art Zone
Over the past three decades, Beijing has become a world leader in the fields of architecture and design, with a steady stream of innovative buildings, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium and the new CCTV Tower, joining the famous ancient landmarks that make Beijing unique. This sense of creativity has helped to foster a flourishing art community, much in evidence since the Reform and Opening period of the 1980′s. The 798 Art Zone in the Dashanzi industrial area of Beijing is the largest and most innovative arts space in Beijing, attracting photographers, painters, poets and other types of artist from all over China as well as the rest of the world.
The art zone was created within an abandoned electronics factory, constructed in the 1950′s in a Bauhaus-inspired style through a joint venture by the East German, Soviet and PRC governments. “798″ was the name of the largest factory in the factory district (factories were always named using numbers during the revolutionary period), the name which the art zone now uses. The 798 art zone can traced back to the late 1990′s and the early years of the 21st Century, when abandoned factories were leased at cheap prices to artists who had recently been forced to leave their former studios near the Summer Palace. Artitsts from across China and the world flocked to the area, helping to establish the art zone as a leading contemporary arts centre and to put Beijing’s modern art scene firmly on the map.
When entering the art area, one can still see much of the factory’s original steel machinery and Mao-era slogans, serving as a memorial to the building’s original function. However, new art galleries, cafes, studios, museums and contemporary exhibitions now make up the space once filled by industrial machinery, displaying once again Beijing’s vibrant mix of old and new meeting in harmony.