Cao Fei
My future is not a dream, 2006

  • 8 Chromogenic prints
  • each 120 x 150 cm
  • Acquired in 2015

Cao Fei’s multifaceted and multimedia artwork is founded upon close observation, and a critical, questioning attitude to her immediate surroundings. She begins with the everyday and mundane, the personal, the supposedly intimate. Her artworks describe the “politics of intimacy” (Hou Hanru) for Generation Y – a generation which is exposed to the consequences of globalization, and whose identity has been deeply affected by this. In the eight-part photograph series entitled My future is not a dream (2006), Cao Fei addresses the hard-to-understand world of industrial production. At the invitation of the Siemens Arts Program, Cao spent a number of months at a Foshan-based factory, used by the OSRAM company to produce light bulbs for the global market. The photographs show workers dancing to music of their own choosing, moving through the factory in their costume, posing as music bands, or standing immobile at their working station whilst the production process continues around them. These are touching, cheerful and thought-provoking pictures of people attempting to find their own identity in a thoroughly rationalized and anonymous setting that is governed by technology. The realistic representation of these working worlds, and the open conflict between the market economics-based strictures of the company and the more intimate worlds of the lives of the workers, are significant themes in the photo series My future is not a dream.

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