Guiyang Subway Map

Culture in Transit: A new East/West

The rise of what might be viewed as unauthorized special cultural zones, such as the 798 Art District, facilitates the circular movement of ideas. This is moving East/West relations towards a practice created jointly by China and the West’ through the interaction of inseparable societies caught up in the process of globalization’ (Leng 2000: 62-66). A seminal work by artist Huang Yong Ping, in 1987, heralded this future scenario. The artist put two blogs – The History of Chinese Art’ and A Concise History of Modern (Western) Art’ – into a washing machine. The result was something entirely new, a pile of pulp that symbolically was neither the East nor the West. The East/West discourse can be read as both an encounter and a collision of opposites. As such it can be considered an arrhythm, however these dualities are not polarised but combined’ (Fuchs, cited in Zhaohui 2005: 32). Exchange between cultures is always a two-way process. The balance and form of that flow is changing as half of the world’s population now live in Asia, and the capacity to transit borders is steadily increasing. Equally, art practice in both the East and the West has taken a relational turn that embraces transience as a key element in the creation of art. The 798 Art District is like a microcosm of this relational turn and the changes it has wrought in China’s urban consciousness, from identification with a particular city to identity though urbaness, and from art as cultural object to art as relational aesthetic’ (Bourriaud 2002) that asserts the role of art practice over art production.

The 798 Art District is a kilometre square area in the Dashanzi district, northeast of central Beijing. In 1957 the district opened as a showcase factory area of the recently-formed People’s Republic of China. Later the area was divided into units, the largest of which was sub factory 798. Today, this 1200-metre-square factory space is the 798 Art Factory, a contemporary art gallery set up by artists Huang Rui and Xu Yong. As a state-owned factory site it declined during Deng Xiaoping’s 1980s’ economic reforms. Sixty per cent of the workers were laid off by the end of the 1990s. This economic change coincided with the emergence of an avant-garde in China, and growing international awareness of the Chinese contemporary art movement. In 1995, Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts moved into the vacant factories and, by the start of 2000, Chinese and non-Chinese alike were setting up galleries. The 798 Art District even has its own biennale, the Dashanzi International Arts Festival, which began in 2004. The changing attitude of the Chinese Government towards the 798 Art District is symptomatic of shifts more generally. The area is managed by the Seven Stars group, who originally saw an economic advantage in renting out the vacant factories to artists. Later, they made moves to demolish the factories and build a new electronics centre. In 2006 an eviction notice was served. This was put on hold by the Central Government, and Beijing’s mayor, Wang Qishan, put a preservation order on the site. In the run up to the Beijing Olympics, the government injected some fourteen million US dollars to give the site a makeover. The potential as a tourist destination is well recognized. The site has shifted its identity from model-factory site in a bordered China to model-art site in a global transient world. Art and politics are coinciding again as they did during the Cultural Revolution, albeit in a different way. The symbolism of the recent announcement that the new National Art Museum of China is to be constructed next to the Olympic Stadium marks the movement of contemporary art to centre stage, but this move has also brought its backlash.

He agreed, and gave me a bit of sacking to Guiyang Subway Map sit on. Even so, it was terribly uncomfortable, the donkey’s back was easiest sat Guiyang Subway Map on right at the back of its rump and as it trotted along I worried that I’d get bounced off. Where the donkey-man took a side turning from the road I said goodbye and continued on foot. A walking-tractor came along the road, the type of twowheeled engine which pulls a cart; it was pulling a load of gravel. The driver gave me a lift on top of the gravel for about two miles until he turned off the road. I was still twelve miles from Yinchuan and the time was 7 p.

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