China: 798 Art District, Beijing

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“That is a nice black sculpture.”

Finally, I’m back in Beijing for my last free day in China before I hop on a flight back home for the remainder of summer. I decide to spend it getting my fill of modern art at the 798 Art District, Beijing. Unfortunately, my love for adventuring on Chinese buses (marvelling at their cheapness) means that I spend an hour getting there, while my backpacking partner takes ten in a taxi… However, I adore walking around the art district complex, it’s a very cool, relaxed space, dotted here and there with gargantuan outdoor exhibits and the odd, painted-up alley, and it certainly makes up for the time-consuming task of travelling there. Although you have to dodge the kitsch and tourist-orientated gift-shops, there are some great exhibitions on offer in the free galleries here – even the various print shops have a wealth of classical Asian reproductions on offer. It’s not as wacky as a media art gallery in Chengdu were we watched a woman vomit water, cook sushi with it and feed it to her friends – all on video, of course, so it’s art, not a nasty trick –  but if there’s one gallery not to miss in 789, it’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art. With free entry for students, and for everyone on lucky Thursdays, it’s a gallery where you can easily spend an entire afternoon. Open Tues – Sun, 10AM-7PM (last entry 630PM).

Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art
4 Jiuxianqiao Rd.
Chaoyang District
Beijing, China
+86 10 5780 0200

Check out my guest post Artist Profiles (2 in 1) for ‘Razz My Berries Online Magazine for a few more words on the artists featured at Ullens, Sanrath Banerjee and Wang Mai!

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I’m relieved I didn’t miss this last check off my China trip; as I head back on home with my (quite dirty) rucksack, it’s gained weight from its original 5kg to 10 and it’s filled with mementos, presents, clothes, and odd bits and bobs from around my travels.

I’m finally headed home.

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Taiwan: Surreal Structures

Sometimes I really have to stop and just stare here. Even though this huge structure is looming overhead in an incredible mass of solid concrete, I feel like it’s too surreal to be true. It’s hard to grasp that this isn’t the set of some sci-fi movie, and that this enormous overpass for the MRT has been built over these streets of Nanshijiao. It obscures the sky, and the rush of noise from the overhead trains is barely noticeable through the resounding echo of traffic below. It’s incredible.

I have a similar feeling just moments later, when we step into an elevator in the block of flats, just on the opposite side of this road, and I realise that the MRT line has not only been blocking the sky, but just how high the surrounding flats go. If I’m honest, I’m also feeling slightly uneasy as we keep going up, and I’m more than happy to get off at the 19th floor. But not before I pass a friend the camera and ask her to take a quick picture of the elevator buttons – I’m just happy just to get out…

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