I’ve been a Shanghai for a while now and I still can’t decide if it’s a clean place or a dirty one.
You constantly see people dropping stuff on the floor like they don’t give a shit (because they don’t) but there’s always a street cleaner to come along and sweep it up.
Aside from the occasional phone number of an unlicensed moneylender daubed on a wall, floor, or the staircase of your apartment block, you don’t see much graffiti either.
I’ve noticed there doesn’t seem to be the desire to mindlessly vandalise public property here like there is back home in England. Not many Chinese teenagers are smashing up bus shelters.
Coupled with what I’m sure would be heavy penalties by the powers that be for such behaviour, the whole thing leaves Shanghai bereft of street art.
Organic street art, that is. You can find street art. But only where people have been told they can produce it.
Places like m50, aka the Moganshan Road art district, for example.
What and where is Moganshan Road, Shanghai?
Moganshan Road is probably Shanghai’s best-known art district, although there are pockets, galleries, and museums elsewhere in town too.
The m50 art scene grew up in disused industrial space alongside Suzhou Creek. It was established in 2000 by local artist Xue Song, who took advantage of the cheap rental prices of the former factories and warehouses.
Before long, other artists had also moved in, helping m50 to grow into Shanghai’s smaller version of Beijing’s 798. Kind of.
Today there are over 100 artists there with many opening their studios to the public. The area is also home to a number of design agencies.
The name m50 comes from the address of the complex at 50 Moganshan Road. If you’re taking the subway there, you can go to Jiangning Road station on line 13 or Zhongtan Road station on lines 3 and 4.
A few film photographs from m50, Shanghai
This isn’t a huge photo essay, and I don’t have that many photographs from m50.
Hence, a few.
The day I went was quite productive though, allowing me to kill three birds with one stone, so to speak.
The first was to grab a picture for a collaborative worldwide street art post on somebody else’s blog. To put my blogger hat on for a second, it was an easy backlink. 🙂
The second bird was an image for my #leesixtyfive project. This one, as it happens. I’m trying to get as many recognisable sights from Shanghai in there as I can, and the m50 graffiti was certainly on the list.
The final bird was these photographs. I had the roll of Fujicolor Industrial 100 still in the Olympus Supertrip, having not taken many shots with it on a previous trip to Nanxun, and thought Moganshan Road would be a good place to fire off a few more.
Whether the discolouring on the next two is related to the film being in the camera for almost a year, I don’t know. I don’t imagine that helped, although I’m not too fussed either way.
Not when we have Michelangelo’s David in a Beijing opera mask too.
Wrapping up from Moganshan Road
If you’re an art fan and find yourself in Shanghai, visiting 50 Moganshan Road is a no-brainer.
Yes, technically, they’re in repurposed buildings. But I guarantee you they’re spotless inside.
m50 might not be the best place in Shanghai to see art anymore, but the name will always be iconic.
At the time of writing, it’s certainly your best bet to see what few other places in town can give you too.
That street art.
… p.s. if you liked this piece on Shanghai’s m50 and think others will too, why not give it a share?