Posted by: Lotus Light | April 2, 2012

Chai-Na!

Headache!

Xi’an Textile City Art District is one of the coolest places to hang out in Xi’an.  In the early 1950s Xi’an established a centre for textile manufacture – one of the few areas then that could be called a ‘Town’.  It combined factory and living areas, noodle shops and recreation spaces.  This town was home to thousands of textile workers.  But…as the textile industry in China died in the 1990s, so did Textile Town until 2009 when it was infused with new life as an art district similar to Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, Milan’s Tortona Art District or New York’s Soho District.

 

Rock art

Here, in Textile City Art District, young artists could rent inexpensive studio space and experiment with new forms of creativity; galleries held shows of the new art works; rock musicians used the huge spaces for rock concerts.  Visiting international artists came here to work in the studios, inspiring young locals and helping them with contacts and advice.  This disused and forgotten space became a government- awarded model cultural and creative industry park.

One of the really good things to do is to wander in and out of the studios, talk to the artists as they work, and if anything catches your fancy, you can always take home an original!

Studio

My downfall is usually the ceramics studio – oh those teapots and coffee mugs…    The artists are friendly and don’t seem to mind strangers just dropping in.  Many of them live here, with a bedroom above the studio, and if you are lucky, the kettle just might be on and you could be invited for a cuppa.

Wheel and chair

 

The textile factory had its own train station, which has morphed into a photographic studio and coffee shop.  There were a couple of noodle shops great for sitting under the trees for a snack and a beer, and an upmarket restaurant at the far end of the area.

BUT… this wonderful space is soon no longer going to be with us.  I visited a couple of weekends back for an exhibition opening, and the peripheral buildings were being torn down.  Chai-na strikes again!!  The space will be remodeled and turned into a traditional art centre.

Chai - meaning to tear down

And down it comes….

Field of (lost) dreams

The rubble is reused for other buildings in other places.

Loading bricks... women have equal opportunity work in China. 🙂

 

A large sign over the main building is doing the countdown to complete closing… one by one the lights on the sign are going out.  In less than 100 days the artists will take their canvases, sculptures, acrylics, paints, images and disappear into the night.

The lights are going out. Countdown....

People are still living in the grounds, workers as well as artists.

War zone....

But life goes on…

Washing day in the deconstruction.

Why is this wonderful place being destroyed?  In a few weeks, it will be remodelled and turned into a gallery for traditional Chinese art.  The artists currently living there believe that the powers-that-be don’t like modern art or modern music,  that it has overtones they don’t approve of, and as such – is of ‘low taste’.  So this incubator for art and music is being destroyed.

Painting - Wenchuan earthquake

I don’t know where the artists will go – they don’t know either.  There are very few places that offer affordable studio/living space around.  But the loss of this space makes Xi’an measurably poorer.

Unlucky charm

 

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