798 Art Zone in Beijing
If you are interested in contemporary Chinese art, there's a place you must go: 798 Art Zone. Located in the northeast suburb of Beijing, the previous factory plant has become a haven for artists from home and even abroad. Artists gather here to open galleries, art studios and cafes, and hold all kinds art events, making the area the most resounding name in the artistic circle.
The original 798 was a once state-owned industrial plant established in the 1950s. The plants were abandoned in late 1990s.
Inspired by the SOHO area, which provided a refuge for artists in New York City in the 1960s and 70s, some artists moved to the warehouse lofts in 798 in 2000.
Cheap rent, quiet surroundings rapidly turned the area into a paradise for artists. More artists moved in and established dozens of art studios, galleries as well as book stores, cafes and restaurants.
798 Art Zone doesn't have a gate or a boundary. When you see a big red post written with "798", you know you have arrived at the art paradise.
Walking along the road, doodles on a low brick wall give you the first sign of the artistic flavor of the area. Heading forward for another 200 meters, you arrive at the key area of the art zone.
It might not compose a complete and lively artistic area without cafes and restaurants. Don't worry. 798 has many of them.
You can kill a couple of hours reading books or just chatting with friends in the leisurely and artistic cafes. Of course, you can also have a good meal in the well decorated restaurants.
Come to 798, if you are an art fan. You won't be disappointed.
(CRI December 17, 2008)