In order to have a visitor’s visa request accepted, I was asked to lie about being a writer, otherwise I wouldn’t be granted access into China. So I was left with the impression that artists weren’t allowed to express themselves, that they were scared into silence and never revealed what’s inside them.
I’m used to going to the art galleries sparsely spread across Montreal and the suburbs – so imagine my surprise when I arrived at the 798 district, as big as a small town, where streets upon streets welcome art lovers into galleries and little boutiques. I *almost* want to live in one of those industrial quarters where Art lives and breathes.
You can find sculptures at the end of a street, next to a parking lot, hiding ugly highways. Some also tower over you, reminding you that there’s always someone watching over your shoulder, whether you think you’re free or not.
There are monsters bouncing and others waiting to have their pictures taken – because a big part of the culture is this easiness to remain young at heart, laugh like children and enjoy the cute and silly, like this guy.
As I walked the 798 district, I wondered if Art changed the views of the people, if years of communism had been forgotten with their ‘end’, if artists found ways other than the written word to express their oppression and anger. I guess I found it, whether you see this fist as smashing down on people or you imagine it to represent freedom, rising up in the air.
As beautiful as the 798 district was, I wanted to see landmarks, those I’ve read about in books for years and never imagined seeing up close and personal. Until next week, my friends.