GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2011, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 1566-1576.doi: 10.11821/yj2011090003

• Culture and Tourism • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The structuralistic and humanistic mechanism of placeness: A case study of 798 and M50 art districts

ZHOU Shang-yi1, YANG Hong-yan1, KONG Xiang2   

  1. 1. School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China;
    2. School of Resources and Environmental Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2011-03-05 Revised:2011-06-28 Online:2011-09-20 Published:2011-09-20

Abstract: In the background of economic globalization, emotional needs and consumptive needs for other cultures have brought the study of placeness into focus. It is necessary to discuss the mechanism of the placeness formation for protecting traditional placeness and developing new placeness. The discussions over the mechanism of placeness formation have a variety of opinions. The two most important mechanisms are humanism during the 1970s-1990s and structuralism since the 1990s. But the current research of the interaction between two mechanisms is not adequate. This paper chooses one art district respectively in Beijing and Shanghai to analyze the interaction between the two mechanisms. In response to the practical issues, this paper tries to find out whether the art districts strengthen the placeness of cities while providing art works and which mechanism is more important upon forming placeness. The research group investigated the connection between the art districts and their social environments according to structuralism, and the place identity of the artists, gallery operators and consumers in the two art districts according to the humanism. Conclusions can be drawn as follows: (1) The mechanism of both structuralism and humanism contribute to the landscapes in the art districts which reflect the placeness of Beijing or Shanghai. The landscapes produced in historical period by structuralistic mechanism could become the identified landscapes in local people's memory of place. (2) Most of art works in the two art districts do not show the placeness of Beijing or Shanghai. Foreign demands for the art works, which result in the mechanism of structuralism, lead to the demand for art works on Chinese theme rather than on Beijing's theme or Shanghai's theme. (3) The artists, gallery operators and consumers have less place identities of Beijing or Shanghai because most of them are not locals. They represent the placeness of Beijing or Shanghai seldom from the bottom of hearts. The structuralistic mechanism is the essential one in placeness forming of the two art districts. So the two art districts play a less important role in strengthening the placeness of the two cities by humanistic mechanism, and they are short of inner mechanism of humanism during the process of art creation and marketing. This case study suggests that the government of Beijing or Shanghai should organize activities to encourage artists to create art works representing placeness of the city, which can make the art works competitive in the world market and minimize the negative impact on place by globalization.

Key words: cultural industry, art district, placeness, mechanism