Sunday, 22 April 2012

Art and urban renewal, visiting 798 in Beijing

I am back from a quick visit to Beijing and lectures at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. The trip just confirmed my addictions to coffee and social media, but I also loved the buzz of the city, friendly people and tasty food.

There is a lot to say about cities and agglomeration in China. After a week I was still slightly lost and it felt like there is always more Beijing just across the horizon, but it was very interesting.

One of the places we visited was the 798 district. It is an old industrial area that has been converted into an arts district with galleries, cool little shops and restaurants. The scale is huge. In other places this would be a few streets and one anchor site, but in Beijing it really is a whole district. I have not read anything about this particular site, the impacts or future plans, but enjoyed it a lot to walk around in ruined old factories and see lots of sculptures, galleries with paintings and shops filled with kitch and cool souvenirs. It is a photographer's dream.


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