THEMATIC: Cultural Trends and Genres

"Hip Hop Performance," 2006. Production stills, 30 minute video. The Notorious MSG opening night performance at Lombard-Freid Projects, NY. © Cao Fei. Courtesy the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.

When trends within a certain culture become popular, they often spread to other areas or cultures across the globe. Cao Fei's work explores trends within different cultures, such as corporate and street culture, and how they influence mainstream society. For example, in her Art21 feature, the artist discusses how the American form of hip-hop had an impact on her life in China. Watch Cao Fei's segment and discuss the idea of cultural diffusion. How does the spread of ideas or products lead to the hybridization of different cultural forms or genres?

SEGMENT: Cao Fei in "Fantasy"

Before Viewing
Where do cultural trends come from, and how do they spread? Define the terms street culture and popular culture. How do they differ? In what cases might they be the same?

While Viewing
What forms of popular culture does Cao Fei refer to during the segment, and how do they influence her work? Define the terms cosplay, hip-hop, and avatar, and discuss how students personally relate to them.

After Viewing
Discuss the term cultural mobility and how it relates to Cao Fei's observation: "Neither cosplay nor hip-hop is native to China. But when we experience cosplay, we feel that it has become indigenous and original"?

"Ah Ming at Home (COSPlayers Series)," 2004. Digital C-print, 29 1/4 x 39 1/4 inches. © Cao Fei. Courtesy the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.

Collect music videos from a variety of genres, cultures, and countries that blend imagery, music, text, and performance in different ways. Using these videos as inspiration, create a multimedia installation or performance that explores a specific street culture.