In December 2009 a huge number of artists living and working in Beijing’s Chaoyang district were told to step aside in favor of a government project of humongous scales. After the artists of 008 Art Zone and Zhengyang Creative Art Zone lost their studio spaces and were left out in the cold in what has turned out to be Beijing’s harshest winter in 40 years, hundreds of others working in 13 other art zones realized that the threat of demolition is probably a real one… Still stunned by the impact of the realtors’ mafia descending on his studio, (Satoshi Iwama) cannot visualize yet where he is going to land up when his studio is razed completely to the ground. But he is certain it’s not going to be too far away from Beijing in the next five years. “This demolition has increased social contact between the artists,” he says, grateful at the renewed bonding, thinking perhaps the situation will inspire his art sometime in the near future.
…Japanese photographer Inri came to China following in the footsteps of her Chinese beau, the photo and video installation artist Rong Rong. They moved to Caochangdi in 2004, a chic and expansive artists’ hub, dotted with futuristic buildings designed by the maverick artist Ai Weiwei – a quieter, more reserved and elegant cousin of the bustling 798 art district about 1 km away. Three Shadows, arguably Beijing’s most lavishly-equipped center for the practice of photography and video installation, was built in 2007.
If Three Shadows – its spectacular structures, hi-tech galleries and incredibly huge collection of archival material – also has to make way for the bulldozers of development, would Inri consider going back to Tokyo?
“A creative artist’s life goes on,” she says. “Everything we do here, including connecting to people across the globe, is part of our creative process. Physical displacement will make a breach in the chain of work we do, but surely won’t have a lasting effect on our lives or work.”