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Get the exhibition catalogue with four different covers, one for each shortlisted artist.
Working with film, digital media, photography, sculpture and performance, Chinese artist Cao Fei (b. 1978, Guangzhou, China) has built an extensive body of work over the last two decades that considers how the rapid development of the digital and other technological advancements have radically altered our perception of self and the way we understand and navigate reality.
This first major solo exhibition in the UK re-imagined new and existing works in a site-specific installation that included the new VR piece The Eternal Wave and the feature-length science fiction film Nova as well as earlier projects such as Whose Utopia, Asia One and La Town. Cao Fei’s projects often revolve around the effects of automation, virtual realities and hyper urbanisation on the human condition, while further addressing issues of memory, history, consumerism and societal structures – particularly in her native China.
Creating complex, surreal and often darkly humorous dystopian fictions, Cao Fei’s works scrutinise modern systems of surveillance, production and labour reflecting our relationship with intelligent machines and adding critical commentary about the isolating effect these have on every aspect of individual living. Her moving image works are often set in labyrinthine, industrial, or urban settings where the human body, identity and emotions seem alien or redundant and the impending future full of apocalyptic uncertainty.
Yet within these dark, twisted environments there are also moments of subversion in which her protagonists find ways to use the technology to shape alternative, collective futures.