PHOTOS: Inside the Bizarre Art Space Recreating LA in Guangzhou

By Jocelyn Richards, June 5, 2017

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Driving towards PinkSTAR Art Space on the outskirts of Tianhe in Guangzhou, the road resembles that of any rural Chinese town: repair shops mix with dapaidang, or street-side food stalls; traditional residences are patrolled by a stray dog or two. Nothing seems out of the ordinary – until everything turns pink.

It happens suddenly: one moment you’re riding past steel-grey warehouses, the next you’re entering a 6,000-square-meter fantasyland dipped in shades of tickle-me-pink.





But this is China, where nothing is really out of the ordinary. It’s also common to see edgy new art spaces inhabit what they deem to be historic, genuine environments (which usually means abandoned factories). PinkSTAR itself is housed in a former tire factory.

Unlike 289 Art Park in downtown Guangzhou or 798 Art Zone in Beijing, however, PinkSTAR Art Space is technically not open to the public – unless you’re a model shooting for an up-and-coming Taobao line. The space, conceived and designed by advertising firm STARBOX, is intended to provide realistic backdrops for professional photo shoots that might otherwise be held in Paris or Los Angeles.

PinkSTAR-Art-Space-2Booking a spot isn’t cheap – access starts at RMB800 per hour, with a minimum requirement of four hours – but is significantly more affordable than flying an entire design team, models and photographers to the US or Europe. 

At the entrance, a security guard grills visitors for the details of their appointment. The tight oversight makes the space feel exclusive, almost concealing the fact that it’s an assortment of pink-painted buildings in a fairly dull section of Tianhe.


While waiting to be let in, guests may wander into the nearby PinkSTAR Cafe. They’ll find it empty, though, and seemingly unused – like a scene out of the 2014 comedy The Interview, where James Franco’s character discovers all of the produce in a North Korean fruit shop is fake.


The successive ‘10 art rooms’ contained within PinkSTAR embody a similar vibe: visually attractive, physically useless. A bowling alley has no bowling balls. A washing machine can’t take real coins. A diner’s ketchup dispenser has never been filled (though the alcohol behind the counter is real, we’re told). Sure, it’s a studio intended for posing not bowling, but the lack of functioning props proves eerie nonetheless. 





From purely a design perspective, however, Pink Star’s interior can’t help but impress. The rooms hold flavorful details that go beyond the standard cliches of typewriters and tattered novels. There’s an air of romance too, manifested in the white curtains designed to “blow in the wind like that scene in The Great Gatsby,” or in the forest-green bathtub accented by lace and fur. Models must have a blast.






In the end, it’s the genuine imagination behind Pink Star that keeps it from being distastefully phony. Though from the photographs alone, you probably couldn’t tell either way, and that’s very much the point.


Want to explore PinkSTAR for yourself? We have two entry passes for groups of two to three friends interested in visiting the site. Message one of our official WeChat accounts (ThatsGuangzhou or ThatsShenzhen) with your name, number and why you should win! 

See listing for PinkSTAR Art Space.

[Images via Jocelyn Richards and courtesy of PinkStar]

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