About the Photographer
Chinese, b. 1978
Deeply influenced by the rapid economic growth, industrialization, and growth of consumer culture in China, Cao Fei’s practice blurs the lines between fantasy, reality, digital, and analog worlds. The artist perceives a gap between her generation and those preceding it, partially due to the recent urbanization of China, but also because of the dissemination of outside cultures into the country via digital media. Cao Fei’s work examines the various realities in which she and her contemporaries exist, be it through costumed play as fantasy characters in her series of photographs COSplayers (2004) or through her video and performances within Second Life, a web based virtual fantasy world.
Cao Fei formed an alternate online self--an avatar named China Tracy--in Second Life and documents this existence for I. MIRROR- A Second Life Documentary Film by China Tracy (2007). Subsequently, Cao Fei designed a city for Second Life, and depicts it in the video titled RBM City (2007). Like her other Second Life projects, the fictitious city is a critique of a very real society in the midst of rampant consumerism and urban development. In the videos, China Tracy experiences the very human feelings of romance and loneliness among an entirely fabricated digital world. Interested in the duality of her real life versus her manufactured avatar, Cao Fei staged a performance in 2010, merging the two past Second Life projects. The performance and video documentation, titled RBM City Opera, depicts a man and woman playing out their lives as both avatars and real people, set to the backdrop of Fei’s fictional city.
Cao Fei completed a BFA from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (2001). Her work has been shown extensively in China and internationally. Selected solo shows include: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO (2011); Shisedio Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2009); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2009); Serpentine Gallery, London, England (2009); Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nürenberg, Germany (2008); Para Site Art Space, Hong Kong (2006). Selected group shows include: Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2003); 50th, 52nd and 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2003, 2007, and 2011); National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China (2005); MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY (2006); Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (2007); 10th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey (2007); the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2010); Contemporary Arts Center, ChengDu, China (2011); the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2013). Cao Fei is also the winner of the 2006 Best Young Artist Award by CCAA (Chinese Contemporary Art Awards).