Video interview directed by Scarlett Meng, based in New YorkDavid Ben Kay is a lawyer turned artist. He quit his job as the general counsel of Microsoft China to start his own multidisciplinary consulting studio in 2008. He based his studio amidst trendy cafes, boutique shops, galleries and temporary tricycle stalls in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone.
David was one of the earliest advocates who worked hard to ignite the concept of 798 Art Zone. He helped to raise the profile of the 798 area, promoting the artistic value of these abandoned buildings, designed by architects from east Germany.
His first move was to turn one of the abandoned warehouses into his home and consulting studio, yuanfen flow. The name “yuanfen” means destiny in Chinese.
The studio has the space and look of a contemporary gallery with many of David’s creative interior touches including a hanging swimming pool.
Having lived in China for about 25 years, David witnessed the country’s rapid changes. But he says no matter how well he understands this culture and society, he is always a foreigner. David steps back and says, ”some people might find this uncomfortable, but for me it is a strength – it allows me to stand outside and be an observer.”
Art Zeen found David Ben Kay in a black apron making coffee in his Bauhaus style kitchen, entertaining his Chinese customers in fluent Mandarin. David is open, attentive and articulate.
Art Zeen chats to David about his consulting studio and artist identity.