Time Magazine looks at the Fo Tan industrial area of Hong Kong and explains how it went from manufacturing to artists’ refuge to real estate battleground in such a short span:
Hong Kong’s real artistic vanguard can be found 40 minutes by train from the city center, in the grimy industrial area of Fo Tan, where artists work next to sausagemakers and metalsmiths in hulking, derelict factories. For years, manufacturers have been fleeing to cheaper pastures in China, so Hong Kong, notorious for high rents, has had a surplus of vacant industrial space. The result has been an explosion of creativity.
Fo Tan’s pioneering artists arrived in the early 2000s, when a sluggish economy and the SARS crisis sent rents tumbling. Now there are more than 200 in the area, many of them graduates of the nearby Chinese University of Hong Kong. While there’s nothing new about artists setting up shop in obsolete industrial areas — it happened in New York City’s SoHo in the 1960s and Beijing’s Dashanzi in the 1990s — its impact in Hong Kong has been profound. There are now more full-time artists than ever before and they’re catching the eye of both local and international publics. In January, more than 10,000 people flocked to Fo Tan’s annual open-studios event.
Industrial Bloom (Time)