798 Art Zone helped dissuade my ethnocentric views: “non-democratic” countries contain people who create contemporary artwork.
Before traveling to China, I thought that the country would be entirely traditional, conservative, and retain old fashioned values. Never did I imagine the city of Beijing to have an art district filled with hipster shops and street art. To describe the 798 Art Zone in just one word would be: contemporary.
The layout comprised of a grid of small one-lane roads with sculptures peppered on the street-sides, above the buildings, and against the walls. Every corner had something new and different, and I found myself in a stupor staring at the unconventional but intriguing art pieces.
One sculpture showed three caged dinosaurs stacked on top of each other, while another was of a nude muscular man. The windows of one shop were painted with cartoon characters that sat and drank coffee perfectly aligned with the inside tables. One building even contained art from North Korea, reminding me that China had relations with countries whom the US refuses to recognize.
I wasn’t expecting to spend three hours here; the district was a lot larger than I expected. Characterized by small buildings closely situated to each other, the place looked like an old Western downtown. With most visitors in sight belonging to a younger age category (teens and young adults), I felt like I was in an outdoor expo in the US. Spending an afternoon in 798 Art Zone helped dissuade my ethnocentric views: “non-democratic” countries contain people who create contemporary artwork.