Beijing’s 798 is the latest art district to fall victim to gentrification.
The Guardian has recently reported that Chinese artists are have become victims to the 20th century artists’ arch-nemesis: gentrification. In this action we see several things occurring that move China and the West in parallel. The diversification of China’s economy has led to the budding middle class to explode, and with it, an often bourgeoisie class of artists have grown. Like their Western counterparts, the Beijing artists are being pushed out of their warehouse district, the 798 Factory, to make way for nicer galleries and institutions.
The Chinese artists have decided to at least protest their evictions. This is just another instance of how artists in a capitalist system must combat the very political nature of being in such a system. For, it’s a paradox that often what attracts the businesses to want to redevelop a certain area is the existence of artists. How do businesses, then, reconcile pushing out the artists whose very presence initiates desire to live in a particular area in the first place?
The Guardian reports:
The country’s contemporary art scene is one of China’s biggest cultural successes, generating huge interest overseas, yet artists say their studios are targets for demolition.
In the best-known of Beijing’s art districts, the 798 factory complex, studios have been replaced by commercial galleries, large institutions, shops and cafes in the last decade as the art scene has prospered and rents have soared.
This week a group of artists said they were beaten with bricks and batons by thugs trying to evict them from their studios. More than a dozen of them mounted an unusual public protest in the heart of the capital on Monday against the demolition of art zones and the overnight attacks upon them.