What used to be a military factory complex during the Cold War has been turned into an art community that has gained worldwide acclaim. The pure size of the area is impressive by any standard but it must be said that PR genius and the rise of China have played into the hands of the local artists, dealers and other stakeholders that are pulling the strings. What some artist friends of mine critique, however, is that in 798 business comes first. I wonder if that is not the case everywhere.
The west entrance to 798
798 was actually the name of one of the factories onsite. Although it is rumored to have been the best and shiniest, perhaps with the best looking workers (kidding) there is no real reason why this particular number should have been chosen as the namesake. It probably just was one of those many random things that just happen. Today the area is best accessed via 酒仙桥路 in the west and then toured by the roads in front of you.
An old school military factory turned into an art gallery
A nice day out in Beijing
Whatever you may want to say about 798, the area is quite amazing with its old factory buildings, the train station in the very middle and modern architecture mixed in everywhere. The bottom line is that a lot of money has flown into the area and you will probably find more luxury cars in 798 than in most other areas of Beijing. 798 always lends itself to a nice day out. There is a lot to see, even if you are not into arts. You can basically do most of your gift shopping right there onsite and sit down to have some pretty good coffee too. The lead gallery is likely the UCCA which is a huge complex smack on the busiest street of 798. Visit it to discover the next hot Chinese thing. But please note: if you are looking for Ai Weiwei, he is not situated in 798 but in 草场地, another artist area close by. Good luck looking.
Is this art or can I bin it?