February 18, 2009

Beijing: Day 2

Today was strange - the day started out as planned but slowly all afternoon and evening plans got re-scheduled. So I took the afternoon off after lunch. Well-deserved, I thought.

One of the areas in the city which has been increasingly popular and been covered in the Western media is District 798. A part of the city with loads of galleries, showing mostly contemporary Chinese art. Some are professional, international galleries. Others are tiny and underground. I'd just read an article on how the economic downturn is also hitting this part of Beijing - no one is spending money on paintings anymore. I was curious to see for myself.

The afternoon turned out to be really good. Wandering through this huge district, peeking through open doors of rundown warehouses to find huge spaces with paintings, photography, sculptures, video installations and so on. An afternoon of interesting art (including a great exhibition by Belgian Hans Op De Beeck) without having to enter a colossal museum. I finished the afternoon with a 'Dancing Latte' and New Orleans Cheesecake in a funky little bookshop before heading back into the mayhem of Chaoyang.

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