The Dashanzi Art District (also known as 798 Art Zone) is an artistic community based in an old industrial area of North-East Beijing

  • 798 Art Zone Space gallery, January 2009. Old Maoist slogans are visible on the ceiling arches.
    Old Maoist slogans on the ceiling arches in Space gallery, 798 Art Zone.

The community began in the early 2000s when young Chinese artists, looking for cheap studio space outside the direct influence of the government, moved into a largely abandoned military electronics complex known as Factory 798 on the fringes of Beijing. This vast Bauhaus-style warehouse had been built by the East Germans in the 1950s and still retains Maoist slogans on its walls. (Mao Zedong, commonly referred to as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese Communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, which he governed from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976).

The area became known for radical contemporary art and in 2004 the first Dashanzi International Art Festival was held, placing the area on the international art map. In recent years the district has attracted huge national and international investment, and today Factory 798 is home to some fifty commercial art galleries as well as the not-for-profit Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. 

The inevitable gentrification has caused rents to rise pushing out artists and grass roots initiatives. Today Dashanzi Art District is used as an example of Beijing’s cosmopolitan status by the Chinese government.