Sunday, 6 January 2008

Yen Countdown

The PRC, being run in a top down sort of affair has allocated a district in Beijing solely for the artist community. It's called 798. I don't normally approve of art-under-duress but on New Years Eve I made an exception.


  1. I have a real dilemna over this sort of thing.

    On one hand, I could argue that segregating artists from the rest of society is similar to the racial discrimination of the past [accepting the hardships experienced are very, very different] however I can't help but be thankful that artists are finally getting some sort of Government support/recognition given up until very recently, they were treated as some sort of social leper which influenced how the rest of society viewed them.

    Come on Mr Frith, tell me what you think and why ...

  2. Actually, the government didn't, and doesn't, have anything to do with it at all - it started off as an honest-to-goodness artists' colony, with creative types moving into cheap, edge of town, post-industrial spaces. There are still working factories in amongst the galleries (or should that be the other way around?).

    The 798 Art District's future is very much in doubt, as the work unit that used to operate in those factories still needs to pay the pensions of its former workers - and the best way would be to sell the buildings to property developers... 798 may be much more commercial and mainstream now than in its glory days, but I guess the artists still can't afford to pay much rent...

  3. I think anyone who creates something beautiful or interesting or provocative should be encouraged Rob and if that means McArt franchises than so be it... I'll have a large fries with that ;)

  4. Hello The Welshman...welcome! Can I call you 'The' for short? ;)

    Thanks for the feedback. I was told on Friday that 798 is for more affluent artists because we paid a visit to Nan Luo Gu Xiang 66 DongCheng District. It seemed a lot more chilled out than the 798 district but I guess even the artists can't hold out against the developers forever.

  5. One more thing though Rob. I do get the impression that the arts survived even the cultural revolution. It probably went deep underground but I get the feeling it survived more here than Shanghai. Which seems to be money obsessed, or on profit share if rumours are to be believed - ooh I'm such a bitchy bitch today ;)

    Anyway you've got me thinking again about art and its relationship with money. I'll probably have some thoughts on it but right now I'm struggling to get the question right.

  6. Hello Mr Welshman ...

    Thanks for clarifying that - but to be honest, I was talking in more general terms, because it's certainly happening in Singapore as well as districts in Malaysia. [Then there's model currently being 'tested' in Atlanta and Memphis - but that's more to accentuate what's there than to try and [re]create it]

    And Charles, please don't think I was suggesting that cutural pressure had supressed the creative class so much that it had almost become extinct - China [as many parts of Asia] is one of the most creative places on the planet.

    My point was that in many cases, this creativity thrived in a more ghettoesque atmosphere rather than in the mainstream because of both governmental and society attitudes towards art in contrast to the value system of the region.

    God that's far too many words, I'll write the post on the 'classified ad' you sent me :)

  7. Given I played with Chesney bloody Hawkes, I don't think I am someone who can understand the relationship between art and money - that's a Lauren subject :)

  8. Its impossible to really talk about any art space without comparing it to New York in the 60s/70s.

    The art spaces generally work because they are rough areas in which artists can afford big lofts etc.