"Art making is a form of alchemy, in a way, because you are trying…to make gold from nothing. When it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
From the series, "Exclusive"
Artist Cao Fei discusses her multi-media theatrical work "PRD Anti-Heroes" (2005), a play performed by non-professional actors. Investigating the "anonymous and unsung heroes" of the Pearl River Delta or "the factory of the world," Cao's production incorporates elements of traditional Chinese legends, Hong Kong soap operas, and Cantonese farces.
Cao's work reflects the fluidity of a world in which cultures have mixed and diverged in rapid evolution. Her video installations and new media works explore perception and reality in places as diverse as a Chinese factory and the virtual world of Second Life. Depictions of Chinese architecture and landscape abound in scenes of hyper-capitalistic Pearl River Delta development, in images that echo traditional Chinese painting, and in the design of her own virtual utopia, "RMB City." Fascinated by the world of Second Life, Cao Fei has created several works in which she is both participant and observer through her Second Life avatar, China Tracy, who acts as a guide, philosopher, and tourist.
Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview & Translation: Phil Tinari & Xiaotong Wang. Camera: Takahisa Araki. Editor: Joaquin Perez. Voiceover: Clara Jo. Artwork Courtesy: Cao Fei. Video: © 2011 Art21, Inc. All Rights Reserved.