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Have you heard of 978? It’s an old factory complex on the outskirts of Beijing (well, I assume it used to be outskirts about 15 years ago… Anyway, not anywhere central), now converted into a hip artsy place with galleries and cafes and whatnot, where young people go to get a taste of modern art. Erm… Ish.

Being the kind of person who considers herself an artistic entity (erm… no, not really, no) somewhat on the edge of current trends (…okay, this one’s a definite no), I went to check it out and managed to find my way to this out-of-the-way corner of the world (getting there? Not horribly convenient, at least the first time, but could be worse. You just have to watch out for the buses).

As is usual with me, I chose the wrong end of the complex to begin with. It was dead empty. I thought I got the wrong place or maybe they’ve just closed it down.

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But no, there was some life there, if only in the form of a Tibetan prayer flags exhibition…

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Things started getting interesting from there:

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And finally I got to some actual galleries, with (fancy that!) real people in them.

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I thought at first this was a depiction of a row of mugs with frothy beer in them… Very Freudian…

IMG_5689And then it was definitely time for some earned respite. If you’re wondering why a cup of ice tea and two scoops of ice cream should make me so ecstatic, please remember I had behind me a whole-night train ride in a hard-seater and the temperature that day was about 40 degrees.

IMG_5692Thus refreshed, I emerged again from the nicely air-conditioned (and that means a lot coming from me – I’m no friend to air conditioning. In Poland we take whatever Mother Nature throws at us and bear it with pride. Except in winter. If we did it then, we’d all die. But still) cafe back into the sweltering heat – and suddenly it turned out there were people everywhere. Oh. So not only had I chosen the wrong entrance, but showed up too early… Noted for future reference. In the meantime, I enjoyed the whatever there was to enjoy (more ice cream! – that is why I don’t have more decent photos, my hands were occupied).

IMG_5694There was a lot of interesting-looking little places:

IMG_5708And some randomness, which you probably know by now I enjoy the most:

IMG_5717And still more randomness:

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And more:

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And even some baffling panda-hate:

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And my personal favourite (okay, but the panda is almost on a par!):

IMG_5701And then I had to go back to the city and meet a friend, so that’s it. Sorry I don’t have any more photos, but – it really was very hot! Just take my word for it when I say it really did get to be more crowded and lively and interesting than it looks here.

To sum up: it’s a fun place to go and spend an afternoon. If you’re a real art junkie, you can’t miss it – but then again, expecting high art would probably be a mistake on your part. Whatever you do, don’t do what I did and make sure you start at the right gate (sadly, I forgot which one it was and how to find it now. Oh well, good luck with it then!).

 

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