I didn’t visit 798 on my first trip to Beijing. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed at that stage. That was was 2003.
I was poking around the internet a couple of years later and came across two interesting things in Beijing. The first was a vast system of tunnels that had been built under the city and the second was an underground art hub.
When I returned to Beijing in 2006 I was determined to go underground to tick off both of these. I was there with a large group for a wedding and only had a little free time to myself. In the end I was only able to have a rushed tour of the art hub.
The internet told me artists had been buying studio and gallery space in an old munitions factory. Slogans painted on the wall, though faded, remained. Steam hissed up from pipes. The industrial ‘vibe’ was not concealed.
In 2011 I visited China, again for a wedding, and this time I had a few days in Beijing. I made sure I had a couple of days to walk around 798 and soak everything in. Here are some of the photos I took.