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Cao Fei

Opening: 30th September 2006, 6 - 9 p.m.
Duration: 3rd October - 11th November, Tue. - Sat. 12 - 6 p.m.

Büro-Friedrich-Berlin is very glad to announce the opening of an exhibition of the Chinese artist ao Fei on September 30th 2006. During the opening Cao Fei will stage a performance with East Berlin Massaker, three to six hip hop artists from East Berlin , whose stage will be part of the installation.

Cao Fei's curiosity about Hip Hop evolves from her interest in juvenile culture, especially in its function of mirroring the society in which it exist. The Hip Hop project, which after having realized it in New York will now be implemented in Berlin , familiarizes low-wage workers with the subculture of Hip Hop. Cao Fei plays well-known Hip Hop tracks to the fruit-seller or construction worker on the street and gets them started in the fundamental forms of dance and movement. The juvenile culture has evolved on the streets and is, according to its origin, interpreted in the movements of neutral persons. Like this, it is brought back and thus undergoes a new analysis and questioning of reality.

Influenced by global trends such as Japanese Manga, American Rap and movies from Hong Kong , Hip Hop and other categories of Pop music, advertisement, television and computer games coexist with old Chinese traditions such as opera, theatre or dance. Cao Fei belongs to a new generation of Chinese artists who, due to a growing tolerance, by the government do not rebel against the government directly but look into the social consequences of new developments caused by global capitalism. Fascinated by this cultural and social combination, Cao Fei began her artistic career very early. Before she was 20 years old, she directed an extravagant play. Performance art stayed a central point within her work, which she displays as concerts, plays or live graffiti performances in complete productions combined with sculpture, video and film work.

Her work Cosplayers, 2004 refers to a subculture of costumed play, where the participants assume the roles of their favourite Animé character and dress and act like them. For a moment the participants - usually teenagers who obsessively give themselves up to their hobby - can be superheroes. Moreover, Cao Fei gives an insight to the everyday life of her main characters. While in some works, they are fighting a fantastic opponent in front of an abandoned scenery of industrial structures or on top of the shell of an arising high-rise building, in others, they can be seen in their private environment. In the presence of their indifferent parents they daydream in their own subcultural world, still dressed up as their fantastic alter-ego.

Whose Utopia is a video project that was completed as part of the Siemens Shanghai cultural program. Siemens is inviting young Chinese artists to realize works related to the company. Cao Fei translated this task more than accurately by directing a theater production with workers of Osram, which is located in South China . The main characters of the 30 minute film are the workers themselves, who either interpret the work processes within their original profession by dancing or capturing their daily work in pictures, which removes it from reality. Cao Fei and the workers at Osram have realized the work situation in China with a look at society that not only addresses the actual situation of workers in China but also their fantasies and dreams.

In line with the opening of the second Guangzhou Triennale, Cao Fei staged a play called Antiheroes of the PRD, about the history of the region of the Pearl River Delta. Guangzhou is located on its east coast. The characters of the play ironically resembled famous persons of the region's most recent history. Well known heroes of the revolution, as well as pop stars, bandits, or prostitutes, migrant workers, politicians and other figures drew an incredibly humoristic, exact and critically provocative picture of the intense process of rise and downfall of modernization of the PRD. The play is neither an objective description of the reality nor in any way an artistic elevation. It is just an alternative story of real history. The anti-heroes in Cao Fei‚s work are contrary to the heroes of the history of wars and politics known to us. They are part of a history which usually remains clandestine. Mao Tze Tong said: „Human beings, only human beings, are the true driving force of history.“ Cao Fei casts doubts on the realization of this statement and asks when the history of these people really can become history and who are the real heroes, who have created and are creating history.


Cao Fei is born 1978 in Guangzhou , Guangdong Province, China . She lives and works in Beijing . Cao Fei is currently showing her work in totalstadt.beijing case at ZKM in Karlsruhe . Also, her work is on display at the Battersea Power Station in the group show China Power Station: Part I organized by Serpentine Gallery.


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