Contemporary visual artists in Shanghai and real estate developers form a curious partnership amidst a construction boom in the run up to Shanghai hosting World Expo 2010.

Orient Top Town is the English name given to a luxurious real estate development in south east Shanghai. The grand entrance of the project is a replica of the arc de triomphe in Paris. Reality, however, did not quite match the developer’s intentions. Despite a booming property market everywhere else in Shanghai, nothing much were sold.

Desperate, the developers decided to let artists live in the 500 vacant shop spaces for free. Soon, a community of over 100 artists who cannot afford the high rents in the city, live and work there.

Shanghai is en route to become the financial center in China. Against this backdrop of the big city, the artists in Orient Top Town told a personal account of being an artist in China right at this juncture in time, of the reality of surviving in the unique Chinese economy and of how real estate developers have oddly become a power player in the Chinese art market.

藝術跟地產應該是互不相干的。但是,正因為他們完全沒有關係 ,所以地產項目用藝術來做宣傳 , 也能達到最佳效果 。藝術能令一個地產項目變得高檔 ,做起來 !

大東方就是一個藝術家和地產商的故事。一群超過100個藝術家住在兩年都賣不出去的大型豪華商住樓盤 。他們來自中國五湖四海 ,由雲南以至西藏,都來到上海這個大都會求存 , 試試一展才華 。但上海樓市天天在升 , 租金也負擔不起了。樓盤老闆情急智生,召攬藝術家搬入沒人要的商鋪。一個處於上海市東南面的新區 , 500 個空置的鋪位 於是一下子變成了藝術工作室 。

雖然故事發生於上海 , 但身為香港人也不禁要問 , 為甚麼在香港,我們很多的藝術項目也是由地產商贊助甚至舉辦 ? 真正的藝術 , 其實應該是獨立自由的。藝術不是用來賣樓的,文化區亦不是地產項目 。但無奈地產商有錢 , 有地盤,藝術又得不到政府資助 。 所以最新現象就是由地產商贊助藝術。在上海如是 , 在香港也是 。 莫非 , 藝術地產真是最佳排檔 ?