Once part of an industrial park developed in the vein of 1950s East German-Chinese Communist brotherhood, Factory 798 (a.k.a. 798 Dashanzi Art District) serves up a dose of fresh, creative and surprisingly uncensored air in a space now devoted to modern art workshops and galleries. Though art purists and Chinese contemporary art experts may decry its commercialism and complain that rent is too high for aspiring artists, Factory 798’s exhibition space succeeds in offering moments of free expression and unfettered social commentary - features in which China sometimes runs a little lean.

An Exhibit with Expression

Within the first hour at Factory 798, we stumbled into a gallery and the vernissage (exhibition opening) for a young artist named Yang Shen. The gallery owners assumed that we were potential buyers and plied us with coffee, wine and snacks. Between sips and bites, we marveled at canvases featuring anthropomorphic, urban bunnies wearing face masks and suffering with nosebleeds in the shadow of an obviously polluted Beijing skyline.

A strong statement indeed. “How did this get past the censors?” we wondered.

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