Introduction to Section 6: Artist Villages and Market Engineering

By Bert de Muynck

The well-known real-estate property proverb ‘location, location, location’ has found in ‘creation, creation, creation’ its creative industries’ counterpart. The rapid development of the Chinese art market during the past decade has blurred the border between artistic creation and real-estate speculation. As one can see with the case of 798, the attempt to establish a living art community turned into an economically-driven district of art display. Today, CBD not only stands for Central Business District, but also for Creative Business District. The pressure and demands of the market, and the desire of some artists to cash in on creation, has dotted Beijing's map with several clusters of creativity. 798 remains its epicentre, but with subcentres to the North and East of Beijing, a new evolutionary process has begun in which creative clusters multiply with seemingly no connection to material conditions. Have the Creative Industries become a cosmetic layer added to an otherwise bland building culture?