Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
Chengduers (consider that coined) have a saying they like to use to make sweeping generalizations about their city that can be translated roughly as follows (albeit with none of Mandarin’s brevity and poetry): “The South is rich, the West is civil service, the North is full of crooks and the East is poor.” Well, while this may be largely true, few people get out to the east enough to see that it, too, is reaping some of the rewards of Chengdu’s rapid modernization. The 82 Gallery and Chengdu Industrial Civilization Museum, are off of the Second Ring Road in the city’s East and located in the former factory space that previously housed 733 art space. Both places serve as perfectly good excuses to get out to the East of the city.
The space has been elegantly remodeled, offering plenty of hip contemporary minimalism through the gallery and several creative offices housed within whilst still retaining enough of the factory’s ‘grit’ to lend the space character. The museum, closed until the summer and currently selling “panda” discount travel cards instead, is small and appears quirkily curious enough to warrant a visit, but this will be largely dependant on how much ‘70s-era faux-machinery and faux-control rooms pique your interest. Unforunately, its information panels are in Chinese only.
82 Gallery, located on the second floor, is perhaps the more worthwhile of the two; of course that’s a matter of opinion. Though it’s not particularly large, on a Sunday afternoon it seemed to attract a sizable crowd of families and young urbanites, there to see the “Unforgettable” photographic commemoration of the Wenchuan earthquake one-year anniversary as well as “Chengdu Chengdu,” by photographer Qi Hong. Both exhibits proved poignant and provocative, albeit in different ways, and the gallery presents another welcome artistic dot on Chengdu’s steadily populating cultural map. When you’re done with the museum, hang out in the park area out front. It’s stocked with snack vendors, table tennis and, across the road, a tranquil lake.