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2007/02/12

Sad Times for 798?

That's Beijing's blog featured an article yesterday about the current flare up between Huang Rui, the founder of 798 Space Gallery at the Dashanzi Art District, and the property owners of the district. Rumors of the demise of Dashanzi at the hands of the city government have been commonplace for a number of years now, but its still going strong. I made my first visit to the area shortly after Huang opened up his gallery in 2002 and since then, try to go there on a regular basis, despite the annoyance of traveling there (since I live on the west side of the city). I love going mid afternoon during the week, when the galleries are empty and I can browse (and take pictures) in peace. If you live in Beijing and haven't been yet, you should definitely make the trip. If you're visiting Beijing for a week or more and have even a passing interest in art or history, I'd definitely advise going. For art lovers, there isn't a better place to see so many different galleries and for history buffs, the galleries are located in a former secret military factory complex where many Cultural Revolution era slogans can still be found on the walls. Its a great little halfday journey to get away from the city center. Like many things in Beijing, who knows what will become of it in a year or two (or even 6 months). Changes to the area have slowly become obvious and who knows what will happen once Huang (and potentially others) are kicked out. Even if the owners of the area, Seven Star Property, don't make mass changes, the Beijing city government's plans for Dashanzi could spell disaster for the area. Hopefully, the end of 798 Space doesn't spell the beginning of the end for one of the last truly unique Beijing experiences.

How to get to 798:
by taxi - tell the driver you want to go to DaShanZi (大山子), JiuXianQiao Lu (酒仙桥路) and stop at the 2nd pedestrian bridge on JiuXianQiao Lu and head down alley Number 2 or 4.
by bus - this is probably the best way, go to the Dongzhimen subway stop and take buses 401,420,405,909,955,991,or 988 (all are within walking distance of the stop) to the DaShanZi (大山子) stop.

Once you get there:
There are a number of great galleries, a few nice cafes to sit and rest, some restaurants, and even a popular nightclub. Stop in Timezone 8 to check out the large collection of art books and to purchase a map of the area.

some old photos:

I don't know why, but the above photo has always been a favorite of mine

inside one of the galleries
Kobe graffiti wall
The Kobe graffiti wall, the first time I saw it I was dumbstruck, this seems far more appropriate in LA than in Beijing!


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