East Wind, 2011 video (still)
Shadow Life, 2011 video (still)
With Shadow Life, a work composed of three distinct narrative sequences Cao Fei invokes the days of childhood. The narrative draws upon the remembrance of a Chinese Spring Festival Gala celebration that ran on China’s official Central Television...In East Wind, the charmingly naive smile of Thomas, the British cartoon train engine, is superimposed on the front of a Chinese-manufactured Dong Feng truck (literally “East Wind” truck), which barrels across urban highways and overpasses with a single mission: to deliver refuse from a construction site in the city to a trash dump on its outskirts. The title of this work has clear historical overtones centring on Mao Zedong’s famous declaration that the east wind prevails over [the] west wind. This statement is associated with Mao’s so-called Third Front strategy, which sought to protect China from invasion by foreign powers by building industrial installations in western China. China’s “East Wind” (Dong Feng) automobile was founded in 1969 as a part of this campaign. But today, as this Western face is married to the Dong Feng truck, the power relationship between the two take on an indeterminate quality, just like the plight and pattern we see in the real world...
With a reconstituted urban model, Cao Fei’s installation work, Play Time perpetuates the open space created in RMB City, which offers a mode and mentality for more people to enjoy and participate in. In this fingerboard skate park sculpture, the buildings that Cao Fei uses as references come from all over the world. They are all charged with authoritarian and mystical connotations and take the form of some sort of belief. In this rapidly modernizing world, there are fewer and fewer buildings representative of ancient civilizations. Nonetheless, their core spirit never disappeared and therefore they still need to be dissolved. By simply sliding one’s fingers over the skateboard and travelling across the inclined surfaces and domes of these buildings, viewers may just be able to reach that objective.