New economy space, new social relations: M50 and Shanghai’s new art world in the making SHENG zHONG
The “cultural turn” (du Gay and Pryke 2002) underpins the latest phase of postindustrial transformation for many cities around the world. From New York to London, from San Francisco to Chicago and from Vancouver to Singapore, urban spaces have been transformed from the gritty to the glamorous through the appropriation of art and culture (zukin 1982; Ley 1996; Lloyd 2006; Hutton 2008; Currid and Williams 2010). Increasingly, this phenomenon has been witnessed in transitional economies such as China. M50, a textile factory turned art district in the inner city of Shanghai, is a notable example. In this chapter, I will provide a narrative and analysis of the transformation of M50 in the past decade, taking into consideration the unique institutional context of the Chinese society. It is argued that the new art district of M50 does not just represent a reconfiguration of urban space, but more importantly, it embodies the formation of new socioeconomic relations in the Chinese art world.