|798 Art District.[Photo by He Peng]|
The 798 Art District is located in the Dashanzi area, Chaoyang District, in northeastern Beijing, past the 4th Ring Road. The large area was once a booming compound for the State's pre-reform electronics industries. After the economy toppled, the space was evolved into the now famous Factory 798.
The 798 Complex came into being in 1995, when the Central Academy of Fine Arts' rented it to use as a sculpture workshop. The workshop, which in its early days was known as the sculpture factory, is still thriving.
In 2000, an American named Robert, an active figure in Beijing's art circles, came to the area. Robert changed the factory dining hall into an art bookstore, which has since become the haunt for local artists. Upon Robert's recommendations, more people came to 798 to set up art workshops, exhibition halls, and galleries. He introduced factory 798 to the world.
Beginning in 2002, more artists and cultural organizations began to divide, rent out, and re-make factory spaces, gradually developing them into galleries, art centers, artists' studios, design companies, and even restaurants and bars. 798 complexes had gradually become a "Soho-esque" area of international character, replete with "loft living." 798 has become the biggest arts area in the country and earned great international acclaim, which impresses visitors by the odd but harmonious combination of historical and artistic factors ... the formation of new, modern lifestyles in old spaces. Here art is alive and real, with artists at 798 living and working in spaces in tune with the past and present.
The district provides creative people an outlet to pursue their artistic ideals. It has given them a unique and spiritual homeland. Chinese artists have inspired new life into an area of Beijing, resurrecting ghosts of the past while breathing in energy and innovations in the present. China's vanguard has transformed an industrial graveyard into an artistic paradise.