Beijing / Where Mao meets factory meets subversive art

The Dashanzi Art District, or as it is normally known, the 798 Art Zone is an amazing cultural precinct in the north west of Beijing.  It was originally an electronics factory complex, a joint venture between China and East Germany, built 50 years ago and  decommissioned in 1980s.  The precinct has since found new life, resisting government suspicion and developer pressure to become a thriving centre for the art community.

It is a wondrous place for the amateur photographer, full of amazing old buildings, crayzy artworks and wacky peeps.  So, this post best be more pics, less talk.  Heck, I might just do captions!

The factory complex was home to up to 20,000 workers, and provided a hospital, orchestra and sporting and social clubs.

The main “street” through the complex …

… and a quiet little courtyard.

A modern architectural tack-on, a cafe that envelopes a tree and has a pile of rooftop eating areas.

The courtyard outside one of the main factory buildings.

Factory becomes fantastic art space.

A bit of scary refurbing going on, like this unhandrailed glass stair.

Remnants of the industrial past, including old machinery and Maoist slogans painted on the factory walls.

And maybe remnants of a more distant past…?

A lot of the art is surprisingly cheeky …

… and surprisingly loopy – this guy was dressed up like a hospital patient and asking people to sign his bandages …

… and surprisingly subversive – the posters in the window were from a series that suggested that China’s key public operations (rail, television, etc) were rubbish.

But all very engaging … people just loved being part of the show.

Industrial and cultural side by side …

… although industrial on its own was captivating enough.

Buildings and pipes and galleries ….

… and what I like to call a little bit of “accidental art”.

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2 Responses to Beijing / Where Mao meets factory meets subversive art

  1. TK says:

    Great pics, and thank you so much– I’d forgotten the name of the rooftop cafe, The High Place, and wanted to recommend it to someone!

  2. Pingback: Figuring out the last year … « That Look Crayzy!

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