fellow artists and old friends, susanne junker (founder of stageBACK project space), barbara anna hussar and zwolf schnifis are giving a talk at the bavarian riviera tonight – doing their part to keep 696 immortal by focusing their discussion on this special community, formerly located in an abandoned gun factory in shanghai’s busy city center.
to touch on the good memories that still abound for so many people, i’m including below a few images and highlights from an article “shape of the city,” [originally published in 2011] which i discovered today while perusing the talk’s itinerary [thanks to barbara anna husar].
“initially, one may mistake the weihai lu 696 artists community for a government-sanctioned ‘creative cluster,’ like m50, red town [shanghai sculpture space], tianzifang, or beijing’s 798 arts district… what these creative clusters lack, however, is the real sense of danger, experimentation, and freedom that is still present at artist communities such as weihai lu, not to mention the lower rents that allow working artists to afford studio space in the center of the city.”
artists were evacuated from the area by, ahem, the you-know-what around 3 years ago … about the time this article was written. it is still touching though to see this place referenced fondly by people that used to work in its much-loved walls, as in the case of the former 696 artists speaking in bavaria this evening.
this space, now vacated for some time, still remains an iconic testament for me to both the transformative power of creativity and its ability to unite and inspire communities that choose to work together. the 80 something foreign and local artists that used to make up this community are now scattered all over the city/country/world, each making their work somewhere else now. it was special, but too good to last it seems.
missed but not forgotten: RIP, 696.