Selling place through art: the creation and establishment of Beijing’s 798 Art District jENNIFER CURRIER
Introduction Often inhabiting former industrial areas, art districts are common throughout Western cities, but they are still a relatively new phenomenon in China. With around twenty art districts or artist villages and more on their way, Beijing is beginning to rival other cities for the most urban spaces devoted to the arts. Despite this plethora and the significant urban changes they represent for China, these cultural areas have only recently begun to be explored within urban studies (see Tan, 2005; Hee et al, 2008; Currier, 2008). This chapter addresses this research gap by exploring the emergence and growth of 798 (often referred to as Dashanzi Art District), one of the most prominent art districts in China and one that has spectacularly battled for existence. The 1950s military factory-turnedtrendy locale is home to a collection of galleries, studios, eateries and cultural enterprises that collectively have been able to survive destruction amidst Beijing’s rapid growth.