From March 12, 2021 to June 6, 2021, UCCA presents "Cao Fei: Staging the Era", the artist’s first major solo show in China and largest and most comprehensive career retrospective to date.
As one of China’s most prominent contemporary artists, Cao Fei uses multimedia formats—film, video, virtual reality, and installation—to surreally depict the dramatic social changes of a globalizing China and the state of the individual under such conditions, fluidly shifting between documenting reality and creating fantasy in her art.
Curated by Philip Tinari, Guo Xi, Patrick Rhine, and Huang Jiehua, Staging the Era assembles an expansive range of works featuring celebrated works such as San Yuan Li (2004), Cosplayers (2004), Whose Utopia (2006), RMB City (2007-2021), and La Town (2014), and the debut of her latest large-scale interdisciplinary project HX (2015-2021). This exhibition was structured into four sections that echo the flow of themes and locales in her work—The South, The City, The Workshop, and The Simulation.
At the center of the HX project is the virtual reality artwork that the artist co-produced with Acute Art - “The Eternal Wave”, which uses the space of Hongxia Theater’s kitchen as its backdrop. Together with the archival documents, objects and furniture collected for the “HX” project and the film Nova(2019), these interconnected elements mark Cao Fei’s five years of research into the social history and urban transformation of the Jiuxianqiao neighborhood in Beijing where the artist lives and works. Under the special setting of Hongxia Theater, the artist cuts through time and space to explore the important history of computers in China’s early electronics industry.
As Cao Fei notes, “No one could predict what’s happening today—the avatar hasn't replaced us. Instead, we are disrupted by different forms of apps accelerating our lives”. In recent years, she has undertaken long-term historical and interdisciplinary research to make work that questions the role of the individual within historical transformation, reimagining approaches towards individuality, society, history, and temporality.
All virtual and augmented reality artworks in "Cao Fei: Staging the Era" were produced in collaboration with Acute Art, and VIVE Arts support VR installation.
To book the exhibition’s tickets, please visit: https://ucca.org.cn/en/visit/#:tick
Image credit: Stills for VR work The Eternal Wave, courtesy of the artist, Acute Art, Vitamin Creative Space and Sprüth Magers