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For the Love of Art

China Today, January 23, 2017 Adjust font size:

IT is an unlikely place for a cutting-edge art complex: a small, dusty village, with a barber’s shop, a tiny restaurant serving dumplings, a convenience store, a school, and a little square with exercise equipment lining a deserted promenade. This sleepy village calls itself Qiaozi International Village Arts District, home to Qiaozi Art Commune, otherwise known as Shangyuan.

The rural location provides artists with a tranquil place to concentrate on art.

In this bucolic location, nestled amongst peach orchards at the foot of the Yan mountains north of Beijing, Shangyuan Art Commune is home to around 30 resident artists, including painters, sculptors, performance artists, musicians, and poets. It has residential buildings with simple but comfortable rooms, a library, a performance space, and a large gallery housing the commune’s permanent collection made up of works donated by previous residents. The rule is, you can live for free, but you must donate a piece of work to help fund the program. This gives people from all walks of life, especially those of limited means, the chance to dedicate all their time to the pursuit of art. Shangyuan was the first residency program of its kind – one which encompasses everything from cutting edge video art, mixed media, performance art, and installations, to more traditional mediums like painting, drawing, sculpture, and poetry.

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