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Image by Shaojin+AT
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Location: 798 Art Zone, Beijing. China
798 Art Zone (Chinese: 798艺术区 pinyin: 798 Yìshùqū), or Dashanzi Art District, is a part of Dashanzi in the Chaoyang District of Beijing that houses a thriving artistic neighborhood, amongst 50-year old decommissioned military factory buildings of distinctive architectural style. It is often compared with New York’s Greenwich Village or SoHo.
The region is often known as the 798 Art District or Factory 798 although technically, Factory #798 is only a single of numerous structures within a complicated formerly identified as Joint Factory 718. The buildings are located inside alleys quantity 2 and four on Jiǔxiānqiáo Lù (酒仙桥路), south of the Dàshānziqiáo flyover (大山子桥).
798 Space gallery, Jan,2009. Old Maoist slogans are visible on the ceiling arches.
The Dashanzi factory complicated started as an extension of the "Socialist Unification Plan" of military-industrial cooperation between the Soviet Union and the newly formed People’s Republic of China. By 1951, 156 "joint factory" projects had been realized below that agreement, component of the Chinese government’s very first Five-Year Plan. However the People’s Liberation Army nevertheless had a dire need of modern electronic elements, which have been produced in only two of the joint factories. The Russians were unwilling to undertake an further project at the time, and recommended that the Chinese turn to East Germany from which significantly of the Soviet Union’s electronics gear was imported. So at the request of then-Premier Zhou Enlai, scientists and engineers joined the initial Chinese trade delegation to East Germany in 1951, going to a dozen factories. The project was greenlighted in early 1952 and a Chinese preparatory group was sent to East Berlin to prepare design plans. This project, which was to be the largest by East Germany in China, was then informally known as Project #157.
The architectural plans had been left to the Germans, who chose a functional Bauhaus-influenced style more than the a lot more ornamental Soviet style, triggering the initial of many disputes between the German and Russian consultants on the project. The plans, exactly where type follows function, known as for big indoor spaces created to let the maximum amount of all-natural light into the workplace. Arch-supported sections of the ceiling would curve upwards then fall diagonally along the high slanted banks or windows this pattern would be repeated several times in the bigger rooms, providing the roof its characteristic sawtooth-like appearance. Regardless of Beijing’s northern place, the windows were all to face north since the light from that direction would cast fewer shadows.
The selected place was a 640,000 square metres area in Dashanzi, then a low-lying patch of farmland northeast of Beijing. The complicated was to occupy 500,000 square metres, 370,000 of which were allocated to living quarters. It was officially named Joint Factory 718, following the Chinese government’s technique of naming military factories beginning with the number 7. Totally funded by the Chinese side, the initial budget was huge for the times: 9 million rubles or around 140 million RMB (US million) at today’s prices actual costs had been 147 million RMB.
Ground was broken in April 1954. Construction was marked by disagreements in between the Chinese, Soviet and German experts, which led at a single point to a six-month postponement of the project. The Germans’ harshest critic was the Russian technology consultant in charge of Beijing’s two Soviet-constructed electronics factories (714 and 738), who was also head consultant of the Radio Industrial Office of the Second Ministry of Machine Building Business. The disputes usually revolved about the Germans’ higher but high-priced quality standards for buildings and machines, which have been named "over-engineering" by the Russians. Among such points of contention was the Germans’ insistence, historical seismic information in hand, that the buildings be constructed to withstand earthquakes of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale, whereas the Chinese and Russians wanted to settle for 7. Communications expert Wang Zheng, head of Communications Sector in the Chinese Ministry of National Defense and supporter the East German bid from the start, ruled in favor of the Germans for this certain factory.
At the height of the construction work, much more than one hundred East German foreign specialists worked on the project. The resources of as many as 22 of their factories supplied the construction at the same time, provide delays had been brought on by the Soviet Red Army’s tremendous drain on East Germany’s industrial production. The gear was transported directly via the Soviet Union by means of the Trans-Siberian railway, and a 15 km track of railroad in between Beijing Railway Station and Dongjiao Station was built especially to service the factory. Caltech-educated scientist Dr. Luo Peilin (罗沛霖), formerly head of the preparatory group in 1951-1953, was Head Engineer of Joint Factory 718 for the duration of its construction phase. Dr. Luo, now retired in Beijing, is remembered by his former colleagues as a committed perfectionist whose commitment to the obstacle-strewn project was a major element of its eventual success.
Joint Factory 718 started production in 1957, amid a grandiose opening ceremony and show of Communist brotherhood amongst China and East Germany, attended by high officials of each countries. The 1st director was Li Rui (李瑞), who had been involved in the early negotiations in Berlin.
The factory quickly established a reputation for itself as one of the ideal in China. Via its numerous danwei or "work units", it presented considerable social positive aspects to its 10,000-20,000 workers, specially contemplating the relative poverty of the nation during such periods as the Fantastic Leap Forward. The factory boasted, among other folks:
the best housing obtainable to workers in Beijing, offering completely furnished rooms to whole families for significantly less than 1/30 of the workers’ earnings
diverse extracurricular activities such as social and sporting events, dancing, swimming, and coaching classes
its personal athletics, soccer, basketball and volleyball teams for guys and ladies, ranked amongst the greatest in inter-factory competitions
a brigade of German-created motorcycles, performing races and stunt demonstrations
an orchestra that played not only revolutionary hymns, but also German-influenced classical Western music
literary clubs and publications, and a library furnished with Chinese and foreign (German) books
Jiuxianqiao hospital, featuring German equipment and offering the most advanced dental facilities in China.
The factory even had its own volunteer military reserves or jinweishi (近卫师), which numbered hundreds and have been equipped with huge-scale weapons and anti-aircraft guns.
Workers’ expertise were honed by frequent personnel exchanges, internships and education in cooperation with East Germany. Distinct incentives kept motivation high, such as rewards systems and "model worker" distinctions. At the same time, political activities such as Maoism study workshops kept the workers in line with Communist Party of China doctrine. In the course of the Cultural revolution, propaganda slogans for Mao Zedong Thought were painted on the ceiling arches in bright red characters (where they stay today at the latter tenants’ request).
Frequent VIP visits contributed to the festive atmosphere. Notable guests integrated Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, and Kim Il-Sung.
The Joint Factory produced a wide selection of military and civilian equipment. Civilian production incorporated acoustic equipment for Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium and Excellent Hall of the Folks, as properly as all the loudspeakers on Tiananmen Square and Chang’an Avenue. Military elements had been also exported to China’s Communist allies, and helped establish North Korea’s wireless electronics industry.
1 of the old machine tools in front of some contemporary art in Dec 2005
Soon after ten years of operation, Joint Factory 718 was split into far more manageable components, such as sub-Factories 706, 707, 751, 761, 797 and 798. The very first Head of sub-Factory 798 (the biggest) was Branch Party Secretary Fu Ke (傅克), who played a key function in recruiting skilled workers from southern China and among returned overseas Chinese.
However, the factory came beneath pressure in the course of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms of the 1980s. Deprived of governmental support like a lot of state-owned enterprises, it underwent a gradual decline and was at some point rendered obsolete. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, most sub-factories had ceased production, 60% of the workers had been laid off, and the remains of the management have been reconstituted as a real-estate operation known as "Seven-Star Huadian Science and Technologies Group", charged with overseeing the industrial park and obtaining tenants for the abandoned buildings.
The Dashanzi factory complicated was vacated at around the time when most of Beijing’s modern artist neighborhood was seeking for a new residence. Avant-garde art getting frowned upon by the government, the neighborhood had traditionally existed on the fringes of the city. From 1984 to 1993, they worked in run-down houses near the Old Summer time Palace (Yuanmingyuan) in northwestern Beijing, until their eviction. They had then moved to the eastern Tongxian County (now Tongzhou District), much more than an hour’s drive from the city center.
Then in 1995, Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), seeking for inexpensive, ample workshop space away from downtown, set up in the now defunct Factory 706. The short-term move became permanent and in 2000 Sui Jianguo(隋建国), Dean of the Department of Sculpture, located his own studio in the region. The cluttered sculpture workshops have usually remained open for guests to peek at the dozens of workers milling about.
In 2001, Texan Robert Bernell moved his Timezone 8 Art Books bookshop and publishing workplace (founded in 1997) into a former factory canteen he was the very first foreigner to move in. 1 of Timezone 8’s early personnel was style designer Xiao Li, who along her husband, performance artist Cang Xin, helped artists secure and rent spaces in the region.
Via word-of-mouth, artists and designers began trickling in, attracted to the vast cathedral-like spaces. In spite of the lack of any conscious aesthetic in the Bauhaus-inspired style, which grounded architectural beauty in sensible, industrial function, the swooping arcs and soaring chimneys had an uplifting impact on contemporary eyes, a sort of post-industrial chic. At the artists’ requests, workers renovating the spaces preserved the prominent Maoist slogans on the arches, adding a touch of ironic "Mao kitsch" to the place.
Later that year, Mr. Tabata Yukihito from Japan’s Tokyo Gallery set up Beijing Tokyo Art Projects (BTAP, 北京东京艺术工程) inside a 400-m² division of Factory 798’s main area this was the first renovated space featuring the higher arched ceilings that would become synonymous with the Art District. BTAP’s 2002 opening exhibition "Beijing Afloat" (curator: Feng Boyi), drew a crowd of over 1,000 men and women and marked the starting of the popular infatuation with the region.
In 2002, designer artist Huang Rui (黄锐) and hutong photographer Xu Yong (徐勇) set up the 798 Space gallery (时态空间) subsequent to BTAP. With its cavernous 1200-m² floor and numerous-arched ceilings at the center of Factory 798, it was and nevertheless is the symbolic center of the entire district. (Huang and Xu considering that created at least seven spaces in the location and became the prime movers and de facto spokespersons of the District.) A glass-fronted café was set up in the former office section at the back of the 798 space, opening into a back alley now lined with studios and restaurants such as Huang’s personal At Café, and Cang Xin’s #6 Sichuan restaurant, the area’s "canteen".
In 2003, Lu Jie (卢杰) set up the Lengthy March Foundation, an ongoing project for artistic re-interpretation of the historical Long March, inside the 25,000 Li Cultural Transmission Center (二万五千里文化传播中心). Around that time, Singapore-owned China Art Seasons (北京季节画廊) opened for display for pan-Asian art, and was one of numerous new galleries setting up at that time.
Source from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/798_Art_Zone