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Cao Fei (1978) at the Serpentine gallery

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I am a great fan of the Serpentine gallery and consider their program to be one of the best in the current art world. So I read their announcement of their Cao Fei presentation with a little bit more than a casual interest.

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The image struck me when I received this announcement in my mailbox yesterday. The text describes an apocalyptic uncertainty and in these times of Covid 19 for me, this image symbolizes the situation we currently live in. Solitude in a barren landscape.

It is by Cao Fei, a multi-media artist and filmmaker based in Beijing. Video, digital media, photography and objects all play a role in the artist’s engagement with an age of rapid technological development. The Serpentine Galleries exhibition will bring together new and existing works in an immersive, site-specific installation, expanding the themes of automation, virtuality and technology that Cao Fei continuously draws upon. Cao Fei’s work is underpinned by an ongoing exploration of virtuality, how it has radically altered our perception of self and changed the way we understand reality. This slippage between the physical and the virtual is always present in her work; from the utopic and dystopic potentials of our modern-day cities, the escapism of users via the virtual platform, Second Life, to the alienating effects of mechanised labour in China, Cao Fei often addresses these far-reaching topics through deadpan humour and the creation of surreal encounters. Although each of Cao Fei’s worlds appear to teeter on the edge of apocalyptic uncertainty, her characters navigate these complex and chaotic realities with vigour and agency, harnessing the unique possibilities of technology in order to shape a collective future. The exhibition is now open and on view until the 13th of September 2020. http://www.ftn-books.com has several Serpentine gallery items available at this moment.

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