Cao Fei: I watch that worlds pass by
Texts (English) by Shumon Basar, Chris Berry, Cao Fei, Christian Ganzenberg, Huan Hanru, Huang Chien-Hung, Renate Wiehager and with an interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Cao Fei
edited by Renate Wiehager for the Daimler Art Collection, Christian Ganzenberg and The Pavilion, Beijing
256 p with 180 coloured illustrations
260 x 190 mm, softcover with dust jacket
No Brave New World!
In the interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist accompanying this first comprehensive European publication on her work, the artist, born in 1978 in south China's Guangzhou province, outlines the initial conditions and perceptual requirements for her work. As the daughter of a sculptor, she traveled with her father, who had the privilege of working in Hong Kong and of being able to repeatedly return there, which allowed her to develop quite early on a fundamental interest in Western (pop-) culture, as well as familiarizing her with the corresponding ways of seeing. During her art and film studies, she remained undecided for quite a long time which path she would follow, which is still reflected the hybridity of her work. The book focuses on three of her complex works, which are realized in a both sculptural and cinematic way. With respect to form, Cao Fei delves into the online world of avatars and pop stars, as well as the film world of zombies and the always seemingly rather romantic models, as known from the world of model railways. Produced, in some instances, over several years, the image of a closed oeuvre emerges that taps into a high critical potential – as in »La Town« where in meticulously constructed model parts, plastic figures are cast from one fire disaster to the next; in »Haze and Fog«, where the dead and the living share a city, New Beijing; or in »RMB City«, a »Second World« of artificial set pieces where avatars live, and sometimes even a groovy Marx-figure appears on the scene. In the wake of her invitations to numerous biennials, last in Venice in 2015, Cao Fei’s work has attracted great interest; it represents the artistic awakening of young transnational Chinese art: the latter probably because her perception of the molochs, in this case Chinese cities, coincides with the future prospects of Western societies.