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Caochangdi: A glimpse of the artist village in the capital
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13:49, April 29, 2009

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The Caochangdi Art District is regarded as "the spiritual promised land for Chinese contemporary art" by a great many Chinese people. Following 798 Art District, Caochangdi, which located on the eastern outskirts of Beijing, has become another Holy Land for Chinese contemporary art.

"A fictitious land of peace and happiness" hidden in the city

The food stalls along the street, the aisles filled with hanging clothes and the dusty building sites are hard to associate with a contemporary art district. However, most parts of Caochangdi are hiding in such places.

"The construction of Caochangdi Art District came slightly later than 798 Art District. Although not far away, it is unlike 798 which has already become a wonderful place for tourists. "We positioned ourselves on a more experimental and more academic level, mainly servicing the professionals", Tian Huafeng, the curator of Lee Space of Red No. 1 at Caochangdi introduced. At present, there are a large number of arts organizations that have located in the Caochangdi Art District, including the "Ai Weiwei Studio" which is known for its famous "the fine wine is not afraid of being isolated" and a few other workshops which are committed to creatively producing documentary videos and theaters.

"I have been interested in Caochangdi Art District since its establishment. I prefer come here to indulge myself for a whole day from time to time", Mr. Ding, an old man retired from the Institute Department of Aviation said, "While some roads outside are very dirty, the works displayed here are quite pleasant. Most works are avant-garde and completely different from the traditional Chinese art."

Assisting the new fellow with a "single mind"

"The value of art must be built on the value of academics. If commercial value comes first than the academic value is a perversion", Gu Zhenqing, the curator expressed. As the investor for the Lee Space, Gu Zhenqing adhered to the academic position through his twenty-year exhibition planning career.

As an artistic platform, The Caochangdi Art District took much count of assisting young artists and considered less the commercial factors. The employment of the "Zero Capital Policy" allowed numbers of outstanding young artists to come into public view. "If he has potential but no money, we can help him. We can sign a contract with him and provide him with a studio." Sun Liangang, the founder of the Art District at Caochangdi said "An artist has no time to think over the market when creating a work. If an artist considers how to sell his works while is designing, I will not accept his works."

The Caochangdi Art District has often organized activities to introduce new faces. The second Premise Behavior Art Festival will be held at Caochangdi from 1 to 3 of May, the theme of which is "the possibility of youth". The participating artists are all very young. More significantly, the activity will contain more international perspectives and designs.

Reflection in the "cold winter"

In 2003, The Chinese contemporary art market began to boom; in the spring of 2005, the Chinese art market presented a unprecedented "Fanaticism" state; in 2007, China's share in the world art auction market exceeded France, ranking third in the world. Nevertheless, the current financial crisis has spread into the Chinese contemporary art industry. "It is time to further strengthen the academic value. It is common that the artists who do not refine academic knowledge will be washed out." Gu zhenqing stressed.

"We hope to have an art gallery environment, which can ensure a quiet space for us to do art promotion and display," Lee Suqiao, supervisor of Beijing Gallery said, "In 2009, we are going to hold 10 overseas exhibitions and six domestic exhibitions, from which we wish to promote genuine and pure art."

By People's Daily Online

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