I have a little post on the LRB Blog today, about being stuck in Beijing.
Despite my best efforts to do nothing in Beijing other than sit in a room and type while I wait for the flight that KLM so graciously gave me on May 4th, two weeks after my original flight was cancelled, I still occassionally find myself somewhere that threatens to undermine my dislike of this city. 798 is a district given over to galleries and studios, in the north east corner of the city not far from the airport. It began in the mid-90s, when artists were looking for cheap spaces and found that the closed factories of the district were available.
As in every other place in the world, most of the art was terrible: dull, derivative, overly conceptual. But there were things I liked (pictured below), most of all the sense of being in a Cultural space, which at the risk of making a horribly insulting, not to say idiotic generalisation, is not all that common in China, even in the highly developed cities of the east coast.
I have a new story in the latest issue of Northwords Now- you can download it here or pick up a copy from a bookstore or library, should you happen to live in the north, as the term applies to Scotland.
I am writing this in Beijing, where I may be for some time…