. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

On Cao Fei…

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | October 22, 2014

SAIC Art History student Ke Wang speaks to Cao Fei’s unique depiction of China—a country undergoing significant cultural change. Cao Fei’s new film Haze and Fog screens at Conversations at the Edge tomorrow, October 23rd, at 6pm.

Cao Fei in Venice

Cao Fei in Venice

Cao Fei’s works are based on the social environment of three major cities in Guangdong, China, known as Zhu Sanjiao, or Pearl River Delta. Guangdong is the epitome of a developing country where a cities’ economy and its population’s life-style has dramatically shifted within the past decade. Even though I have lived in Guangdong, I still find myself in a position of an outsider when I look at Fei’s work. Those familiar subjects were transformed through her work into something extraordinarily bizarre and excitingly refreshing. Fei’s unique depiction of a transforming contemporary Chinese society utilizes private narrative that she collages with social commentary, pop culture, surrealist element and documentary convention.

Unlike many of other internationally well-known Chinese contemporary artists such as Cai Guoqiang, Xu Bing, or Gu Wenda, who use easily recognizable cultural symbols in their works, Fei considers her work to be more confrontational and critically aware of current Chinese culture. She states:

“The 80s generation are way less critical (compared with Cai and Xu’s generation), their works are flat and abstract. They no longer care about collective narratives, but tend to immerse themselves murmuring within their own little intimate space. I am more drawn to the 70s generation, my works are not simply being critical, but also entertaining. It is a combination of reality and fantasy, looking at real life on the side but never outside of it.”