In the shadow of the
pre-post-supra-extra-ultra-inter-contra-hyper modernity of Moganshan Lu,
Shanghai's official "art street", Taikang Lu has been somewhat eclipsed in
recent years. Of course, the city's urban planners have had mixed success when
they zone off areas of town and assign them a specific theme (not you Tongren
Lu, god bless you), especially when that theme has to do with culture, artistic
expression, and creativity.
The 420-meter-long Taikang Lu (between Ruijin and Sinan Lu) was initially
slated to be your "art street" back in 1998 when a former candy factory was
renovated to become the International Artists Factory. The four-story building
and Lane 210 quickly became the home of marketing and design studios, fashion
and interior outlets, and several of the city¡¯s established artists, including
Huang Yongzheng, Chen Yifei, and Er Dongqiang.
All throughout Taikang's development, however, the eyes of Shanghai's art
community have been on Moganshan Lu, as the street north of Suzhou Creek became
the home of both contemporary art gallery heavyweights (BizArt and ShanghArt in
M50) and the unofficial home of underground and edgy, avant-garde Chinese art
(anyone remember the simple yet effectively titled exhibit, "Fuck Off", at
Eastlink during the Shanghai Biennial in 2000?).
While Moganshan offers a chilly industrial iconoclasm and thus nabs all the
comparisons to the Meatpacking district in New York and Hoxton in London,
Taikang Road is experiencing a revival as of late, with the renovating and
launching of an extension to the Tian Zi Fang Art Precinct. In contrast to
Shanghai¡¯s other eminent cultural districts and areas, the interesting aspect of
the new Taikang Lu is that the area doesn't impose its identity upon visitors,
but instead lets them discover the street's unique qualities on their own.
In lane 248 ("Two Well Lane") off of Taikang Road, the dense closeness of a
shikumen lane is transformed into a warm and inviting strip of boutiques.
Perusing the shops feels like entering a house rather than a store and the
serene individuality is a welcome alternative to the glitzier Xintiandi. Benches
and palm trees create a communal shopping atmosphere in the shared lane, and the
experience is as much about learning and enjoying artifacts from different
cultures as it is about purchasing unique pieces. The twelve or so shops that
were opened when I went down there Saturday night offered an eclectic mix or
art, fashion, and interior design from China, Korea, Thailand, East India, and
lately New Zealand.
Nuzi, a New Zealand-themed boutique, offers
furniture, art, games, lotions, and art books. Featured predominantly is the
work of two artists, Gabe Daly and Brent Wong. Daly¡¯s work is of the abstract
idiom foregrounding the elements of color and gravity on canvas, whereas Wong
creates cool and expansive landscape paintings (prints are RMB 200 unframed/RMN
600 framed). The furniture, made with pine and ash, is of individual and of
unique construction and Nuzi features many other intriguing and idiosyncratic
interior design articles conceptually distinct throughout the city.
Location: Shop 30, 248 Taikang Road, near Sinan