Beijing 798’ is a study in contrast, one location, two milieu and fifty years apart. The 798 Art Space is located in Dashanzi, an area to the northeast of central Beijing. It was formerly a large state-owned factories including Factory 798, which originally produced electronics and was built by the Russians in early 1959 as part of a war-reparations deal with Germany.
Beginning in 2002, artists and cultural organizations began to divide, rent out, and re-make the factory spaces, gradually developing them into galleries, art centers, artists' studios, design companies, restaurants, and bars. It became a "Soho-esque" area of international character, replete with "loft living," attracting attention from all around.
Among these newcomers there are cultural entrepreneurs: designers, publishers, exhibitors, performers, and artists. There are makers of luxury furniture and high-end fashion, purveyors of food and drink, and other service-based businesses. Keeping in mind the prerequisite of preserving the historical and cultural remains left in this place, inhabitants have re-defined, re-designed, and re-made the factory spaces, bringing an understanding of architecture and living that is a creative work in itself. These spaces, once restored, become works of architecture. Hovering somewhere between the ties of history and the imperatives of development, between pragmatic necessities and aesthetic diversions, the spaces enter into a living dialogue with their old surroundings. The economic livelihoods of their denizens are living proof of China's economic reform, revealing a new connection between individual identity and social and economic organization, somewhere between utopia and reality, between memory and future. "798" represents the accumulation and maturation of youth culture in this new era. The culture that has taken shape here turns local resources into international assets, and individual ideals into social norms. "Re-making 798" is about the coexistence of avant-garde consciousness and traditional sentiment, the combination of experimentation and social responsibility, the double-victory of spiritual fulfillment and economic planning, and the interaction of the elite and the masses.
The phenomenon of 798 raises big questions about models of urban development, production, and consumption. The point of "Re-making 798" is to open up and activate a site for questions. In this yet-unfinished worksite, we consciously seek to present and record the new lifestyles created in this transition and the thoughts and feelings of the people involved. We seek, hereby, to begin a scholarly discussion. At the same time, we expect to attract even wider attention from the media and the masses, building an ever more stable foundation of public opinion for the healthy development of 798, and creating ever broader opportunities for its continued growth.
798 Art Factory is bringing together contemporary art, architecture, and culture with a historically interesting location and an urban lifestyle, "798" has evolved into a cultural concept, of interest to experts and normal folk alike, influential on our concepts of both urban culture and living space.......