Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beijing, part 12: 798 Art District

We headed into the 'burbs to the 798 Art District, which used to be an industrial area, but was repurposed by the government. The concept of a centrally planned art district is just wrong, if you ask me. The government says, "Here. Take this old factory. You go here. You go there. Be creative in your little box."

Dominating one courtyard was a set of sculptures -- many wolves around one swordsman.

u3 - Wolf Pack

u5 - Swarm of Wolves

u4 - Danger

u6 - Never Surrender

u7 - Fierce

We wandered around, not quite sure which gallery to see first.

This is one of the first galleries we went in. It didn't have any "no photo" signs...
u8 - Repurposed Factory

I tried to take a photo of the next gallery -- the room, mind you, like above, and not a specific painting -- and I get a "No photos" from a worker. I can understand them not wanting someone to reproduce one of their paintings without permission, but to block a photo of the whole space? Petty security-guard nonsense.

Even if I were to photograph a painting, it's still not the real thing. If I diseminate the image widely, it's free advertising! But they want control, not fame and money.

A tshirt shop had three signs around the door proclaiming "No photos." One of the signs even said they'd fine you 100 yuan ($15) for taking a picture. Really? On what authority? Is this a law? Does it apply to the tshirts visible from the sidewalk?

They're afraid of someone stealing their ideas, but their ideas are so basic that I wouldn't need a photo to reproduce them: Obama dressed as Mao, etc. Let others make similar tshirts and let the competition begin!

So I took photos of the old buildings and a restaurant's lanterns.
u10 - Lunch by the Factory

And Chunlin, of course.
u11 - Chunlin at 798 Art District

And random bits of architecture.
u9 - Blue Sky Wall

And the sculpture arrayed along the sidewalks.
u12 - Art on the Street

We sat for a while in an exhibit called "Kids" -- paintings of children from around the world, by one artist. The set in front of us was entitled "Health Disease Happiness Sadness Grow-Up Death Homeland Rangers." Of eighteen portraits, only one or two look happy. The vast majority look miserable. If you put balance in your title, your art work should have balance.

The silkwork in one gallery was very nice. The musculature on the horses -- done in thread -- looked real. A black cat disappearing into the darkness. Expensive, of course. Everything's for sale -- but you've got to go to China if you want to see it because free advertising is out of the question.


Pedicularis said...

Did you get photos of all sides of the big Rubik's cube? My thought was to check to see if it was a possible configuration (without disassembling the cube).

Sotosoroto said...

Sorry. Didn't think to check!