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Caochangdi art galleries given two weeks to relocate ahead of demolition

Among those affected include De Sarthe Gallery and X Gallery

De Sarthe Gallery
Galleries in Beijing's Caochangdi district have been given two weeks notice to vacate their premises ahead of planned demolitions. Among those affected are X Gallery and the Hong Kong-based De Sarthe Gallery, which is now officially closed to the public following the conclusion of Mak Ying Tung 2's exhibition The Anything Machine.

According to Artsy, this latest round of evictions targets all buildings on the east side of a 300-yard stretch of road, with walls spray-painted with the depressingly familiar 拆 (chāi), meaning 'to be demolished'. De Sarthe and X Gallery are reportedly located on China Railway Corp property, which has been suggested as the cause behind their planned demolition. Meanwhile, neighbouring galleries such as Chambers Fine Art and Pékin Fine Art remain safe for the time being, though operate under a cloud of uncertainty.

Ai Weiwei-designed buildings in Caochangdi.

Designed by Ai Weiwei as a response to what was, in many minds, an increasingly commercialised 798 Art District, Caochangdi was initially touted by People's Daily as 'the spiritual promised land for Chinese contemporary art'. Its combination of maze-like streets and large-scale exhibition spaces, including Ai Weiwei's own 258 Fake Design studio, signalled the rapid expansion of Beijing's art scene.

In this manner, the impromptu creation of Caochangdi's artistic community itself bodes well for Beijing's vibrant contemporary art scene, which has repeatedly shown its resilience and adaptability in the face of government intervention. In a statement to The Art Newspaper, Willem Molesworth, the director of De Sarthe Gallery, revealed plans to scout for a new Beijing location.

'There are plenty of options all across Beijing... while it is sad, Beijing is constantly growing and evolving. As one door closes, a new door opens. The demolition of Caochangdi would only mean a new art district will emerge somewhere else in the capital city, and that is an exciting prospect.'

Only time will tell whether that statement will be proven to be true.

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