Art has never been the same at 798 Art Zone since the tourists were asked to come. I know it’s a cliched, “hipster” thing to say, but it’s impossible for any neighborhood to remain the same when daily foot traffic numbers in the thousands and publicists and PR specialists are behind the counter at all the big studios. But are more changes in the future, toward greater commercialization?
Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report thinks so:
Beijing wants to turn its famous 798 arts district into a tourism wonderland, with giant water theater and fancy hotels. But the plan faces skepticism from local artists and some in the public over its cost, its impact on the district and the heavy amount of water it will use in a city constantly worried about supplies.
The Beijing government, along with a Hong Kong company, plans to build a new extravagant art center in the 798 area, the former warren of industrial factories that is now home to galleries, studios and some retail. The center would include with an aquatic theater, a gallery, a stage for laser shows, a luxury hotel and apartments and centers that trade and authenticate work of art. The project will kick off its first phase in early 2013 and finish within two years.
“This art center will reply on the talent advantage of the current 798 district,” said the Beijing state-owned Culture Assets Supervision and Managing Office in a written statement. “It will incorporate performance, display, communication and trading into an international culture entity with Chinese elements.”
The piece features your standard quote from Ai Weiwei, described as “a prominent Chinese artist.” Go check out the article anyway.