7 Works By Cao Fei
Works by Cao Fei presented in the Tomorrow – Seoul Film Programme
Whose Utopia, 2006, 20min
This piece is a video record of the life of workers at OSRAM China Lighting Ltd. in Pearl River Delta while Cao Fei stayed with them for six months. Even in China, which is the ‘Factory of the World’, the Pearl River Delta is considered a highly industrialized special economic zone. The artist captures the workers’ daily lives, fantasies, and desires so beautifully that it seems almost mysterious. With the appearance of the workers doing their regular work, there are also performances by dancers wearing peacock patterned clothes, and angel-like ballerinas. Through such contrast in the scenes, the artist aims to reflect the lives of the factory workers and their effort to achieve opportunities and their dreams in the midst of vicious economic growth.
RMB CITY-A Secondlife City Planning, 2007, 5min 57sec
Along with i-Mirror, which is about the virtual world in Cao Fei’s video game, ‘Second Life’, this piece is about the process of building the virtual city in ‘Second Life’. The artist continuously shows the features of the ceaselessly and busily operating industrial complex in a cheerful atmosphere and music. The giant panda, the bicycle wheels, and the Forbidden City, which form the city, are all symbols of China’s past and present. The artist’s plan to build a small China within the virtual world is finished with fireworks celebrating the completion of the Second Life city.
Milkman, 2005, 18min
In Milkman which was made in 2005, Cao Fei sorrowfully captures the daily life of the nominal main character who is a milkman. He is sprawled all over his bed during the day and agonizes over the temptation of an online sex chatting show. By capturing the moment the character’s simple life and his stimulating online fantasy meet, the artist shows another side to her world of art in the virtual reality in which she has continuously showed interest.
Cosplayers, 2005, 8min
This piece makes the viewers feels as if they are watching a movie. It is composed of unrealistic stories of young people in heroic costumes who are likely to appear in Japanese anime and computer games. The people who are disguised as fairies, heros, princesses, and warriors in comics, act as if their unrealistic outer appearance has given them a mysterious power, and seek pleasure that exceeds the limitations of reality.
Hip Hop:Guangzhou, 2003, 3min
In this video work, the artist captured scenes of various kinds of people on the street dancing along to repetitive music. The dancing people range from students, factory workers, and even passersby on bicycles. These people express their spirits while freely dancing lead by the throb of life, an inexplicable force. However, their dancing is also the gesture of weariness of the workers’ who came to the city in search for a better life, and also an unconscious physical reaction against the difficult life itself at the same time.
Chain Reaction, 2000, 5min
In Cao Fei’s video works, the hidden parts of life are revealed in individual language. This video work has awarded the artist with the Young Artist Award given by Uli Sigg, one of the greatest Chinese modern art collectors. The artist is doing mechanical wearing a doctor’s gown in this video. Using video and photography, the artist observes the critical parts of society in a political but lenient perspective.
Rabid Dogs, 2002, 8min 52sec
This work contains the office workers who run around like dogs in the form of a light pop art type video. The artist says, ‘We like to be beaten with whips. We bite with our teeth but we are unable to bark whenever we like. We work with devotion and loyalty. We submit to the calling of our masters and quickly sense the will of our masters. Thus, human beings are like a pack of dogs that are trapped in modernity.’ Through this, the artist wishes that human beings seek true freedom, escaping from the bonds of obedience towards their masters, thus, the outside world.