I moved to Beijing two months ago, to improve my Chinese language skills and experience life in China. When I first got here, I felt so homesick, because it was the first time that I faced Asian culture. I missed Europe so much. Beijing has its own magic, and as a city with more that 20 million people, it is soaked in subculture, so I was pretty sure that I will find a piece of European culture somehow.
And I did!
Dashanzi Art District, well known as 798 district is a complex of old military factories turned into stunning communities of contemporary artists. If you want to feel the real splash of Berlin in the heart of China – Factory 798 is a place to be!
This place is located outside the Fourth Ring road and can be easily reached by cab or Didi. The 798 Factory zone is placed on the subway line 14, between Wangjing South and Jiangtai stations.
This magical place of contemporary art is open every day, nonstop. The galleries are open from 10am to 5pm every day, and the restaurants and cafes close around midnight. If you want to escape the crowd and tourists, Monday is the best day to visit.
Factory 798 is divided into 4 parts – A, B, C and D. You will need a whole day for the entire area, since it is more than 600'000 square meters big. The art district is pretty walk-able, but you can navigate the area by bike or electric motorbike if you're of that persuasion.
This district is famous about its galleries. Most famous ones are: Boers-Li Gallery, Linda Gallery and Faurschou Foundation.
It is placed in the yard of Grace Beijing hotel. Boers-Li Gallery is mostly famous for the contemporary art shows that tend to be a bit challenging. The most famous exhibition held here was The Art Before 1985 and it is considered to be the first collective contemporary art exhibition in China.
It hosted the most influential Chinese exhibitions, mostly for solo exhibitors. This gallery offers an incredible opportunity to lesser known artists, as they can use one square meter of the gallery to present their contemporary art.
A gallery that hosted so many famous names from contemporary art , including Lucian Freud and Bill Viola, one of the fathers of audio video art.
Digital media exhibitions
This art district is also famous for its stunning interactive digital exhibitions. The mixture of audio, video and visual art leads you to a brand new generation of experiences. Team LAB is in charge for the digital experience during this month. You can enjoy in the digital forest, presented in a concept of the future park. This kind of art will offer a totally new perception of reality and it is a must see for the digital media savvy’s .
Vintage clothes haven
Every weekend you can bump into small vintage clothes markets around the area. People are selling their own clothes, pictures, small vintage cameras and records. Every Saturday, there are clothes exchange spots, where people exchange clothes, hang out and drink hot wine. The markets change places all the time, but if you walk around the Zone, you will find it easily.
Western cafes and restaurants
Art can be exhausting sometimes, especially, if you plan to spend the whole day in the district. Enjoy delicious Chinese cuisine, or choose western flavors and specialties at some of the 西餐 restaurants. At Café is one of the most popular coffee house in 798 Art District. Besides the amazing coffee and Italian pastas and salads, this cozy place holds weekly tea gatherings where artists can meet art lovers and share their stories and experiences.
Strolling around this district is enough of an experience. Not only the galleries and museum are worth of seeing, but the corners, walls, and buildings. This zone is literally screaming art and freedom. Pay attention on the hidden messages on the wall, and enjoy the amazing gratifi all around the district.
About the author
Bonnie Petkovic is a blogger, and digital marketing expert who is new to Beijing and exploring the city!