Beijing 798 Space, a former factory converted into a bustling cultural place
par Richard Zelong | 04.30.10
The remnants of the 718 Joint Factory, a code name for a radio spare parts manufacture, still haunt the premises of the heterogeneous 798 Space. Located in the Beijing suburb, this place is now bustling with the most original contemporary art experiments. The disused shops were actually gradually occupied by numerous cultural organizations and artists attracted by the easy access and unique Bauhaus architectural style.
The vermilion representations of Mao Zedong and his time still decorate the ceilings and the abandoned machinery. Preserved and restored, these witnesses to another era give the place a unique atmosphere. It is indeed a dream incubator to nurture creation and artistic reflection. 798 Space offers vanguardist artists, who might not find other places to express themselves, an ideal platform.
Art galleries, art studios, cultural companies and fashion shops gradually occupied the premises, forming a real contemporary art village, a vanguardist district in Beijing. Today, 798 Art Center sets up a wide range of national and international art exhibitions and hosts fashion shows where many stars and celebrities from all over the world go to show themselves too.
This competitiveness unsurprinsingly attracted numerous internationally reputed brands such as Sony, Motorola, West Wasted, Dior, Omega, BMW, Chinese Yahoo, Hugo Boss, Nike and so on – VICs that often hold press conferences and launch sales campaigns, using the reputation of the place.
But, more than anything, 798 Art Center offers a safe place for artists to freely discuss their ideas. This is why it has been designated by The Times in 2003 as one of the 22 local art centers with the greatest cultural value in the world.
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Translated by Oona Bijasson
Photo credits: Chinapictorial