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CULTURAL INDUSTRIES, SOCIAL SPACES AND URBAN POLICY A socio-spatial comparison of Holon's Mediatheque and Beijing's 798 art district INTODUCTION In my paper I will compare between Holon's cultural hub- The Mediatheque- and Beijing's art village come art district- Factory 798. The comparison is premised on a social-spatial assumption that culture and cultural industries do not take place within a vacuum, but rather are formed within, and have an active role and involvement in social reality, in it they can grow organically or be politically fostered. Such industries can have political, economical, spatial and community or social related power and therefore cannot be treated just as “culture” in the thin, artistic and solely content sense. Firstly I will present a few concepts and definitions, secondly I will present each of the two areas or spaces, and thirdly I will compare between them, focusing on policy, design, history and aims so as to present each as an example of cultural industry development undertaken (either directly or indirectly) with the aim of creating a form of commercial gentrification or artistic urbanization. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND As a short foreword I will now present a few of the main concepts involved in this paper, these concepts will later, in our comparison chapter, be elaborated and exemplified through our two examples- The Mediatheque and Factory 798. In recent years culturally led process have been accredited with almost mystical urban and social powers. Cultural industries are defined as “advertising, architecture, arts and antique markets, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, video and photography, software and electronic publishing, music and visual and performing arts, publishing, and television and radio.”1 And can be delineated “into four sectors: cultural heritage (traditional cultural expressions and cultural sites), art (visual arts and performing arts), media (publishing and print media, audiovisuals) and functional creation (design, new media and creative services)” 2. Such industries, seen through an economical and policy perspective, as a businesses are accredited with having almost magical rejuvenation powers for cities and economies 3; fostering local economies and real-estate markets4; breathing new life into old structures 5;
1 2 3 4 5 Ren & Sun, 2, see footnote [FT] #3 Ren & Sun, 2, FT #3 Wang & Li, 875 Molotoch and Treskon, 519. Gordach, 475
rebranding cities and districts in a certain light 6 and 'aestheticizing' them in certain light (think of Los Angeles without the Hollywood brand or New York without the “village” and SoHo art scene). Such industries and processes are credited with attracting a certain, and very much desired type of population and economic life. These industries either cater to, or stem from, what Richard Florida calls “the creative class” and the desire to lure such a population and their “creative industries” into certain areas or cities7 so as to lead to a type of non residential or commercial gentrification 8. The creative class is a concept which assumes that “the driving force of the economy [is not] technological or organizational, but [rather] human”9. At the local or micro level this process can we termed culturally led urban regeneration10, a wide process of both economical, urban and spatial processes that aims at creating not just a market and realestate in the thin sense but also a “scene” or a “buzz” 11 at local level. From this perspective “[c]ulture is suggested to be the solution to all, serving not only as “a source of prosperity and cosmopolitanism”, [but] also “a means of defining a rich, shared identity and thus engenders pride of place””12. This influence is not solely economical gentrification that displaces one type of population with another for economic reasons but rather attempts at creating a creative and bohemian buzz, in mostly commercial form, and this in turn is done both for economical but also social reasons. In this sense “[a]rtistic presence, involving not only the artists themselves but also the establishments that service their needs and sensibilities, encourage [...] creativity['s] full force”13. And this force is economical but also social. Through the creation of “Third Places”14, meeting places that foster interaction, there are created “establishments that facilitate a quasi-serendipitous meeting across occupational spheres — a scene [sic] in which people from different sectors network, exchange knowledge and start deals [in] specific venues through which artistic currents can connect to other sectors in ways that amplify the arts impact”15. Gordach  terms these places as “community art spaces”, and defines them as “[f]lexible and multifunctional” spaces that “not only present art, but
6 7 8 9
Wang & Li, 875 Wang & Li, 875, Ren & Sun, 4 Moltoch & Trekson, 517-518 Wang & Li, 875 Citing: Vanolo, A., The image of the creative city: Some reflections on urban branding in Turin. Cities, 2008. 25(6): p. 370-382. 10 See Wang & Li, 2009, THE RHETORIC AND REALITY OF CULTURE-LED URBAN REGNERATION – A COMPARISON OF BEIJING AND SHANGHAI, CHINA 11 Moltoch & Trekson, 517 12 Wang & Li, 875 (aka Jun, find original citation or state “citing:”) 13 Moltoch & Trekson, 517-518 14 Moltoch Trekson, 518, Citing (Oldenburg, 1999; see also Lloyd, 2005) find original or cite citing. 15 Moltoch Trekson, 518, Citing Currid, 2007; see also Saxenian, 1994; Pratt, 2002; Indergaard, 2004
often serve as art school, resource and outreach center, and community gathering space” 16. These types of spaces can be created by “non profit organization”, governmental, usually “municipalities [which] operate their own art space” while others “are run cooperatively by artists”17. But what is important for us is to understand that they fall well within cultural industries and show that such industries hold both local social and economical advantages. Specifically “[w]hen located in proximity to one another, galleries, in particular, generate continuous flows of individuals and small groups from one spot to the next” 18, a new and specific mode of pedestrian and urban “choreography” if you will. Other types of “‘culture’, such as music and dance production, [...] also bring people together in particular places, [that] tend to affect sidewalks and streets [...] before and after performances”. The presence and life force “of galleries and coffee houses [is] that they bring in [and] attract intermediaries who translate the cultural edge into entrepreneurial initiative [and] designate the ‘buzz’ that results as a fundamental economic resource” 19. So “scene” and “buzz” go hand in hand with both economical as well as social and communal benefits, supplementing one-another. Historically, cultural led development, or the active endeavor of promoting such industries within a city was an idea that “gained prominence among many entrepreneurial mayors who attempt[ed] to accelerate economic growth and finally project their cities to higher tier in the global city hierarchy [and] produce a distinctive hybrid identity with a promise to offer a unique living or visiting experience”20. While such industries are always part of the free market, Ren & Sun , quoting Kong  claim that “the development of cultural policy in the advanced economies has undergone three phases, with its focus shifting from building high-culture institutions (in the 1950s and 1960s), to community development and social welfare functions (in the 1970s), and then to generating local revenues (since the 1980s)”. (Ren, 3). More so, as a policy “the creation and sustenance of arts districts has thus become a focus [...] at the local and regional level in the US and Europe, reaching up to national agents, as well as the European Union.” 21 In this regard, at face value this seems to be a liberal project, one that requires “forging an inclusive and rich multi-cultural air that is claimed to be valued by the creative class” 22 however as we shall see, specifically in the case of China, this is not always either the case nor the end result, and it's true identity is one of economical, cultural and social process in a post industrial
16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Grodach, 475 Moltoch & Trekson, 519 Moltoch & Trekson, 519 Moltoch & Trekson, 519 Wang & Li, 875, Moltoch &Trekson, 518 Wang & Li, 875,
and globalized world. 798, Beijing, CHINA 798, or Dashanzi Art District as it is sometimes called 23, is an art village turned commercial center and “community” art space located in the Chaoyang district near Beijing's 5 th and 6th ring (See figure 1 and 2). Historically a state of the art military factory, built in the 50's 24 in saw tooth Bauhaus-style (see figure 3) by East German engineers with Soviet and Chinese funds under the name “Joint Factory No. 718”25 as a symbol of Maoist industrial China. Factory 718 (with 7 denoting the military industry or military ties 26) was at the time “the biggest and most expensive complex in Asia and included several different factories, of which Factory 798 was the largest”27 was divided in 1964 into several independently run but mutually owned factories28. Despite its military and hidden nature the space was “looked at with awe and pride by Beijingers, due to the glory of factory life under Chairman Mao”29, “under” being the key word here as at the center of one of the spaces of Factory 798 there is a huge portrait of Chairman Mao, looking down at the (now long gone) workers.
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Currier, 238 Ren & Sun, 7 Currier, 242, Wang & Li, 877 Wang & Li, 877, Currier, 242 Wang & Li, 877, Currier, 242
Historically it was a symbol of industrialization and cooperation inside the Communist world, part of Beijing's first five year plan it's goal was to convert a square kilometer of farm land into a modern industrial complex, a shift that the country itself was suppose to go through. However as the years went by and deindustrialisation took place the complex began laying off workers (numbering anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 at its peak and currently housing no more then 1,000)30. As a result there was a need generate revenue so as to fund workers pensions, therefore the owners- “Seven Stars Group”31- started leasing out some of the spaces, thus creating the “space” and cheap rent needed for artists to move in32.
Coincidentally in 1995 the YuanmingYuan (art) Village was shut down (with the help of police) (see Figure 1), leaving many bohemian artists space and homeless 33. In the same year the Central Academy of Fine Arts was being relocated from its central location in Wanfujin, to the then undeveloped suburb of Huajiadi in to the northeast of Beijing, with an empty factory in Huajiadi functioning as a temporary space until the compilation of the new structure on a near by 200 acre plot. However the head of the sculpture department, Sui Jianguo, found the place unsuitable for his craft, as sculpting required larger space and higher ceilings. This led him to search for a new space which eventually led him to find an
30 Currier, 242, Wang & Li, 877 31 Seven Stars Group is the “government sanctioned owners of the complex” (Currier, 242) and was formed in by all but one of the factories in the complex (Wang & Li, 877) 32 Currier, 242-243 33 Ren & Sun, 7, Wang & Li, 877
empty workshop within the confines of Factory 79834. Around the same time the refugees from the YuanmingYuan (art) Village and others villages that were shut down, started to rent spaces within the complex as well, attracted by low rent prices, vast spaces and minimalistic Bauhaus style 35. In 2000, when the new campus was done Sui, accustomed to the large space, decided to return to the factory, only this time for his personal studio. In his steps other artists followed, and during the same year “designer Lin Jing and publisher Hong Huang also moved in”. A year later “the number of artists occupying the workshop increased. There were established artists like Professors Yu Fan and Jia Difei from art schools, famous musician Liu Suola, and struggling contemporary artists as well”36. In light of this process artistic organizations and other para art industries moved in “ranging from art galleries like Season Gallery, to bookstores like “Timezone 8,” and to complexes like “Time Space,” which offers an exhibition space and a cafe” By 2003 “around 30 artists and organizations set up studios or offices in the area, while 200 more were reported to be on the waiting list” 37. At the most basic level this process exposed “the marketability of the arts [and] cultural entrepreneurs followed suit”38. The “artists rehabilitated industrial workshops into spacious art studios and exhibition spaces”39 and following the areas first international exposition, in 2002, “there was a drastic increase in the attention and promotion of 798, sparking an explosion of development”. Internally the place boomed and now holds “about a hundred galleries (a number that is probably already outdated), as well as numerous trendy restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and remodeled offices”40 and hosts several local and international art festivals as well as a number of influential foreign galleries. Externally it “quickly became the epicenter of the contemporary Chinese art scene” and paralleled and feed the growth in economical value and esteem of Chinese contemporary art 41. Economically, 798 has become a “real estate hot spot” 42. However government relationship with the area had always been ambivalent. Over the years there had been fears that the factory would be torn down, less because of artistic or political reason but rather economical ones stemming from Seven Stars' and local government's development plans to turn the area into “China's Silicon Valley” 43. Also the
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 Wang & Li, 877-878 Currier, 243 Wang & Li, 878 Wang & Li, 878 Currier, 243 Ren & Sun, 7 Currier, 244 Ren & Sun, 7 Currier, 244 Currier, 248
political tension around artist in China is not something to be taken lightly in this context and the area has been subjected to occasional raids and censorship 44, however this has been impeded by foreign and local attention to the area; whether it's via foreign corporate sponsors who hold interest in the area or international press' attention to the factory or the international and local art scene's interest in preserving the space's unique identity 45.
FIGURE 3- Bauhaus-style factory In 2004 “it [Seven Stars] stopped renting to foreigners or cultural institutions and took numerous actions to hinder the district’s artistic growth, such as preventing the entry of taxis into the area and tearing down exhibition posters” 46. This led to both local / grassroots activism and international pressure to preserve the area as it is. Politically, a local sculpture, Li Xiangqun, was elected to congress where he lobbied for preservation, and as a direct result “in December 2005 the national government pledged five hundred million renminbi (US$62.5 million) towards the promotion of creative industries [and in 2006 as part of ] the eleventh five-year plan for Beijing [it] designated 798 a creative business zone” 47. More so during the 2008 Olympics and afterwards the site was cited as an official tourist destination, appearing as such in official literature, therefore somewhat securing its standing and survival. However this came with a price “due to its international reputation and the rising policy interest in cultural industries, [...] led to a rapid spate of commercialization, and by the time of the 2008 Olympics, 798 Factory had completed its short lifecycle as a bohemian artist colony and become a cluster of international galleries
44 45 46 47 Currier, 247 Currier, 244-249 Currier, 245 Currier, 246
and boutique shops catering mostly for tourists”48. Thus ending it's “authentic” stage. In this sense 798 is and remains representative, both spatially but also politically. Its growth has mirrored China's relationship to art and cultural industries, real estate and politics. Born from deindustrialisation, immigration and the shift from strong centralized government to a more loosely and locally regulated one (as seen by the 2006 the Chaoyang district government decision to designated the 798 Factory as an official cultural business zone), it symbolizes China's attempt to move into a post industrial economy, one based on service economy and fed by a desire to brand Beijing as an international capital. Even the space itself is “post industrial” and its political embrace should be though of in this very literal sense. Originally though of as dangerous, weird or unorthodox it is now being embraced as part of wider process of cultural policy (both locally and nationally), which tries to mimic and western culture led regeneration, but with a Chinese twist. The twist being that on the one hand the local government has embraced the area, with one official claiming “‘Beijing is an ancient cultural centre, a famous cultural city, and 798 is carrying on the old culture and developing it into a contemporary one’”49. On the other hand, and here is the twist, with this embrace there comes not only rise in prices but also loss of control. Through what Ren & Sun  call “distirfication” the local state “has extended its creative control to the formerly under-regulated artist villages on the periphery” 50. Distrification is a new model of control where through “interlocking directorates, [...] the state appoints the same government officials across the executive boards of multiple key governing bodies in art districts”51 thus creating centralized control in a semi “open” political structure. This process signifies a “new cultural turn in urban development in China, which had previously followed the model of urban renewal, demolition and displacement”, and this shift parallels both the move to local government and the embrace of cultural led regeneration. However in the Chinese context this is conceptualized as ‘artistic urbanization’ and not regeneration, where “rural villages inhabited by artists quickly urbanize in the midst of art-led development promoted and monitored by the state”. This process according to Ren & Sun always takes place on the urban / rural border and is therefore a “spatial strategy for the local state to reconstitute its control over cultural production and to profit from land leasing and real estate development” 52 in the midst of an inevitable process of urbanization. So what had historically been in the fringe of the city is
48 49 50 51 52 Ren & Sun, 7-8 Currier, 247 Ren & Sun, 2 Ren & Sun, 2 Ren & Sun, 1-3
now deeply situated in the city, and hence under its control.
Mediatheque, HOLON, ISRAEL
As it's brochure clearly states the “Holon Mediatheque is an all-encompassing cultural hub for Holon residents, as well as the urban center of Israel”. The “hub” (sometimes spelled Mediatek) formally includes a repertory theater, The Mediatheque Theater (founded in 2004); a book, media and material library, The Mediatheque Public Library (also from 2004); a cinematheque, The Holon Cinematheque (founded in 2008); and two museums, The Israeli Cartoon Museum (founded in 2007) and (the world renowned) Design Museum Holon, designed by world famous architecture Ron Arad (founded in 2010). Though some of these institutes were founded independently from one another, with the founding of the Design Museum, all of these institutes were administratively merged with each retaining artistic and some budgetary autonomy53, this move led to a few internal cooperation, such as the addition of “iMaterials”, the Design Museum's material library aimed at inspiring designers and cultivating industrial design projects in the city, to the Mediatheque Public Library, located not within the design museum but in the main Mediatheque building. Informally the Mediatheque is connected to a few other cultural institutes around the city, for example the newly founded Holon Center for Digital Arts or The Holon Children Museum and a number of festivals such as The International Puppet Theatre Festival. Geographically it is situated near other establishments; the local Pais community center to the south west, the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) college to the west, the new Holon shopping mall to the north as well as new high end building projects (from the late 90s) to the east. In light of a desire to strengthen the Mediatheque as a center, during interviews I conducted in the Mediatheque, I was repeatedly told that within a few years the municipality itself would change location and move to a plot across the street from the Mediatheque to a plot of land between the HIT and the Mediatheque parking lot 54.
53 Interview 7/7/212 54 Interview 7/7/212
The Mediatheque, the name for the formal area comprised of theatre, cinematheque, library and museums, was founded in 2004 as part of the “educational and cultural rejuvenation program that has been running for the past 16 years under the direction of the city’s mayor, Motti Sasson, and the municipality’s managing director Hana Hertsman”. This “rejuvenation” is part of a major change in the city the Mayor, Motti Sasson, has been implementing. It first started in 1993, with his election, as a process of internal learning, specifically a type of personal “soul searching” for the mayor and the municipality’s managing director Hana Hertsman so as to “define exactly what we [Mayor Motti Sasson and Director General Hana Hertsman] wanted to achieve, we had to formulate a vision for the city – a vision that would come to serve as a founding document and road map from which the organizational structure of the municipality, and later on the actions required in each and every one of the municipality departments, would be derived” 55. This was done with the help of consultant firms and external think tanks, which through a personal “coaching”56 process helped the Mayor and Director General understand their respective goals, define their job description and put into words their vision for the city. In 1995 Hertsman offered her vision for the municipality and this document led the mayor to carry out a political reorganization of both staff, and political and administrative structure of the municipality. The new political and administrative structure was derived from the advice the municipality received from Dr. Gidon Tchatiat, a senior consultant for Bank Leumi, and its focus was strengthening the relations between Hertsman and Sasson's
55 Pasher & Aviv-Tal & Shikler & Tirosh, 10 56 Dr. Haya Ramon functioned as Hana Hertsman's coach. (Pasher & Aviv-Tal & Shikler & Tirosh, 11)
offices, while strengthening the powers of the Director General's Office and getting rid of old political appointees and portfolio holders so as to bring in “professionals” to head each municipal department.57 In addition the municipality founded a few daughter companies or subsidiaries who would be more free to act, specifically in the field of culture. So while education remained inhouse, much of the Municipality’s operations moved to “small and efficient independent subsidiaries (such as recreation and entertainment company, the theater, music, art and dance development company, the economic corporation, etc.), which have a businessoriented outlook”. This “professional” and “business-oriented outlook” was implemented in all fields and position holders within the municipality as well as through semi privatized subsidiaries. These process “generated a very significant change in the way the Municipality operates. [It] freed the people engaged in many areas of activity from their dependency on the municipal bureaucracy, and facilitated greater flexibility in ongoing operations”58.
Most importantly the city underwent a massive rebranding campaign focusing on education and the quality of life of “children”, so as to attract young middle class families while not losing its own young families who have historically left the city for Tel Aviv or Rishon LeZion both because of the city's image but also because employment. Therefore beside focusing on education and implementing reforms in the field, there was also a specific
57 Pasher & Aviv-Tal & Shikler & Tirosh, 12-14 58 Pasher & Aviv-Tal & Shikler & Tirosh, 14
attention to culture, not just for youth, but also for parents and the community at large, in an active attempt to cultivate both artistic endeavors and the so called economy that comes along with it. Correlatively there were shifts in planning and building policy as well as shift in economical aims with the end goal of establishing “an innovative industrial zone with modern hi-tech and industrial plants [so as to] generate the required revolution in the city’s commerce”59. The Mediatheque's openly stated goal is “to provide a unique environment, in which its audience can experience a wide range of cultural activities”. These cultural process are suppose to supplement Holon's municipalities' branding of Holon as the “Children's City” where the “expanding [of] cultural activities [is done] in a way that influences young people’s cultural consumption and environment”, and culture for children was defined as culture from the age of 1 month to 24 years old. Therefore it seems Holon aim is double; first to cater to the cultural needs of its local community and secondly shift it's economy and its branding to a more culturally led or oriented one. This led to a plenum of cultural events, festivals and establishments, both within the Mediatheque and around it. In light of the fact that this is a municipally led process the Mediatheque has benefited and grown from municipal funding of around 120 million NIS 60 with its function being both the cultural services it offers and its ability to function as a cultural center for external cultural events and to supplement the branding and renewal process the city is undergoing. More so, as branding the city was one of the major motivations for this project, big names were brought on, for example The Mediatheque building was designed by B. Baruch and Y. Salamon Architects, and the Design Museum by Ron Arad. In the words of a Mediatheque worker: “we are try to be very quality oriented, but also cool. Mostly we try to be cool” 61. COMAPRISON First we should begin with the similarities between these two cultural industry spaces or hubs. Firstly we can see that these are indeed two hubs whose content fits well into the category of cultural industries. Secondly we see that these process do fall into a bigger picture of municipal or government sanctioned embrace of such industries, for a plenum of reasons, including economical, urban and social. However the story of this embrace differs widely between the two hubs and hence presents two different narratives for cultural led development. In 798 we see first an organic process, were cheap rent attracted artist, which led to organic
59 Pasher & Aviv-Tal & Shikler & Tirosh, 14 60 Pasher & Aviv-Tal & Shikler & Tirosh, 47 61 Interview 7/7/212
growth in art related cultural industries that catered to these artists and their art. This, in turn, created an “organic” scene. This scene and its industries were “embraced” only after their local and international success. More so, originally the local and national government fought against and hindered 798's growth. In Holon we see a reverse model, where the local government actively created and synthetically tried (and is still trying) to promote a scene through the fostering of cultural industries. Not only that, even though this is a municipally led process, since day one all of the institutions had complete cultural autonomy, even though their funding is municipal. So if in 798 the organic process is now being embraced (or even chocked) by local government (through districification and its influence), in both content and form, in Holon this relation is and always was free, in terms of content but not physical development as the Mediatheque is situated well within a planned policy and it's implementation. In my opinion these two different “narratives” stem from the organic vs synthetic growth of these two hubs. In Holon the Mediatheque was founded according to municipal goals, while in China the growth was organic and mostly artistic, therefore the local government “needed” to control and influence 798 (through what we have called distirfication) so as to harness it for its goals and needs. A second major difference is in content. While 798 originally focused on art as a solely creative process, the Mediatheque was originally destined for wider cultural industries. In Holon, maybe specifically because this was a pre-planed move and development with clear cut branding, economical and social goals, the aim was to create a scene and cultural led regeneration in the widest sense and not foster local art. Put more simply in Holon there is cultural industries in a cultural sense where in China there is a cultural industry as a by product that grew from art itself. In China these industries grew organically and their (mostly) economical benefits were late to arrive on the scene. More so the official endorsement of 798 came in an after-the-fact manner which attempted to harness the organic growth to political and economical goals. This difference in content stems not only from the different narratives but also as a direct result of the political relation to the establishment of these spaces and their artistic content. Because Holon's Mediatheque was born out of policy, it's content is cultural industry and therefore poses no political problem (let alone the fact the compared to China Israel's art is quite uncensored), while in China because the space's content is purely and originally artistic, the (political) need to develop it to economically lucrative cultural industries is in constant tension with the space's original and organic life. These differences stem from and have influences on other important differences regarding
these two spaces, specifically in terms of location and physical development, but also in regards to their benefits. While both are not located within the city center the identify of their location tells an interesting story and is deeply connected to the characteristics of the different structures. 798 is located in what was historically a rural suburb of the city but is now part of a new business and embassy district (see figure 2). In this sense it's roots as an industrial factory symbolizes China's shift from a rural and agriculturally based society to a modern industrialized one; its current location symbolize the shift to a service and post industrial economy through a process of urbanization. This shift is manifest in the most basic fact that 798 historically developed within a process of urbanization, where rural areas turned urban through the organic growth and expansion of the city. In 798's case the city has truly grown around it even though it was historically suburban and rural. In this sense the fact that it was “adopted” by the local government stems from an almost sovereignty related issues created in urbanization; where with the growth and expansion of city to new areas the different growing districts need to base their jurisdiction on what historically was not part of the city. Holon on the other hand is not a physically growing city, or at least its growth is not a geographical expansion of urbanization to historically rural areas. Rather Holon is try to rejuvenate or rebuild what it already has, to fix and rebrand its current given space.
This invites an interesting comparison of the structures themselves, where 798 is a historic building that was reborn as an art district through authentic rethinking of the what a can be done with a factory; in Holon these are all new building, planned and built specifically for the Mediatheque and its needs within an already urban setting. This is interesting as in China the process is of growth and expansion into new territory while the structures are not new but rather historical, while in Holon the space and area is “old” but the structures are new. This is interesting in terms of the structures themselves, where in Holon, maybe because the area is not “new” but only “rejuvenated”, the buildings themselves are very modern; specifically we can cite the Design Museum, whose structure was conceived by a world famous architect specifically to hold the Design Museum and to prove the power of design on the user experience (it is a circular structure whose form guides the visitors movement and experience of the changing exhibition, see logo). More so this new building and its
architectural importance is according to many interviewees the single most important factor in the Mediatheque's success62. On the other hand in urbanizing China, 798 is “new in town” but historical in character- the building is not new. Its unique and authentic character stems from this historic significance and character of the structure. In this sense the old city wants new buildings while the new city wants old one, and the new buildings represent rebirth within a given space, while the new city represents reusing older elements through an embracing process of urbanization. In this sense they are representative of the difference between artistic urbanization (cite) and cultural led (urban) regeneration, where Holon is destroying and rebuilding and China is expanding and rebranding. Both have a similar end game in regards to reaping the benefits of cultural industries but the ontology and praxis are different. These differences hint at other differences as well, specifically in terms of the true narratives of these places and their true goals. At face value, both places want to enjoy the benefits of a cultural led economy of the creative class in post industrial society. This type of economy moves between the local and international, both in terms of identity and economical function63. Identity wise, 798 for example, is (or at-least was) on the one hand the center of the local contemporary Chinese art scene, and on the other hand both this art, its value, and discourse are international. Economically there is a need for both the organic growth of local artist and their voice, and also for their art, to have international importance so as to raise it's value and attract foreign investors, press and interest. However there is a difference in their relation to the international and this difference is related to their real goals and aims. In the branding of these two areas this difference is obvious. 798's commodification and maturing to an important economical and branding power stemmed first from its organic and authentic nature and the international interest it generated. Only afterwards was this international interest in this character harnessed for its international and economical power, and its main goal today is external and international, i.e tourism, and less the fostering and valuating of the art scene. On the other Holon with its synthetic, new and subsidies character is aimed mostly internally. It uses it's international aspect (via it's French oriented name and important structures) to valuate the local audience experience, create and enrich the “community art space” it created. Of course this process is economically motivated but it its audience is local and national; it's openly stated goal is to create a community and social experiences so as to serve the local community and their city. So while both brand themselves international, 798 is (now) geared outwards to the world
62 Interview 7/7/212 63 Moltoch, 517
while Holon uses this aspect to draw local people in and enrich their experience, and the international aspect in both their branding is extremely representative in this respect. More so, in Holon, the hub's ability to foster community life via the creation of social spaces, and economical growth via a “scene”, were both originally found in the structure's policy background, but in China they were secondary to the artistic growth and needed, at least in the opinion of local government, to be politically (and some what aggressively) harnessed. This difference in goals and experience leads to our final comparison, which I call methodological and political. In the research for this paper I faced a methodological problem, all of my information regarding 798 was from international academic scholarly work and the internet, while information regarding the Mediatheque was reached by physically going to the place, experiencing its structure and interviewing middle management employees. This on the ground research was supplemented with official literature (brochures and such) and local scholarly work. Firstly this posed a problem in the sense that my experience of 798 was purely textual while the Mediatheque was more physical. However this “problem” actually highlighted an important political difference between them. Through my reading and experience of the Mediatheque the aspect of privatization was obvious at both a methodological and political / economical level. The Mediatheque's founding was done through the local government but was in fact implemented and born from a process and rational of privatization. Remember the subsidiaries founded so as to lead such processes and the “business oriented” thinking. More so think of how the history of the Mediatheque is presented as a resulting from a personal process of specific agents within the municipality and its semi privatized subsidiaries. Methodologically it is presented as a result of a personal process of the head of the Director General Office, Ms. Hertsman, her “coaching”, and the help of external business minded advisors. On the other hand 798 is a story of semi nationalization in the face of private enterprise. Methodologically it is presented as a movement of artist into the creation of 798 as a solid unit which was later embraced not by specific government agents but rather “the local government”, again, as a solid unit. The original unit itself did stem from the actions of personal agents (remember Sui the sculptor who first discovered the space, and Lui, the political activist that helped secure budgets for cultural industries and 798) and from a wider movement of many different artist stemming from their personal needs. So we have on the one hand personal government officials actively creating and working with collective semi privatized untis (Mediatheque) and on the other hand we have personal movements that create a wider unit which in turn is swallowed through nationalization by a
local political unit. In this sense we have two narratives of government control and urban development policy. In Holon, though the Mediatheque is born out of a supposedly centralized policy it is presented as a result of personal and private(ized) processes within the political policy. 798 on the other hand is presented as an organic and personal process which has become centralized after nationalization (via districitifcation). In Holon the privatization is policy and in it's service, while in China the private must be harnessed to political goals. Conversely Holon's goals are local while China's are international. So while Holon speaks the language of nee-liberal economy it does so with local and somewhat “social” goals in mind, while China, speaking in centralized and nationalized language aims at neo liberal and economically geared results. CONCLUSION In my comparison I hope to show two stories or narratives of culturally led urban policy, one of cultural led urban regeneration and the second of artistic led urbanization, and in some way shed light on the political and social cultures of the two countries or at least cities. In the Chinese case it is obvious that the polity sees and aims to mostly economical and branding benefits of such processes, and that this positions is part of or, a reaction to, a process of urbanization; while in Holon we see a classic example of municipally aggregated culturally led urban regeneration with the aim of fostering local life and creating a culturally based community experience and branding. I have tried not to judge either cities but rather only point to the culture of culturally led urban policy. In this sense I have tried to locate its reason not in political ideology but in contingent reality pertaining to the specific history of both these spaces, their structures and locations. BIBLIOGRAPHY1. Ren, X. and Sun, M. “Artistic Urbanization: Creative Industries and Creative Control in Beijing. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-2427.2011.01078.x 2012. 2. Wang, J. and Li, S. “The Rhetoric and Reality of Cultural-Led Urban RegenerationA Comparison of Beijing and Shanghai, China”. The 4th International Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) 2009 Amsterdam / Delft. The New Urban Question – Urbanism beyond Neo-Liberalism. 3. Moltoch, H. and Trekson, M. “Changing Art: SoHo, Chelsea and the Dynamic Geography of Galleries in New York City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Volume 33.2 June 2009 517–41. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-
2427.2009.00866.x 4. Gordach, C. “Art Spaces, Public Space, And The Link To Community Development”. Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2009. doi:10.1093/cdj/bsp018
Vanolo, A. “The image of the creative city: Some reflections on urban branding in Turin”. Cities, 2008. 25(6): p. 370-382. and its implications for contemporary urbanism”. TPR, 79 (2–3) 2008
6. Currier, J. “Art and Power in the new China: An exploration of Beijing's 798 district
Pasher, D., Aviv-Tal, I., Shikler, Y., Tirosh, B. “Holon- The Children's City. The Story of the renewal of the City of Holon: Strategic, Marketing, Organizational and Management Aspects. EPA Group. http://www.holon.muni.il/English/Children/Documents/holon%20the%20children's %20city.pdf. Accessed 16/8/2012.
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