Cao Fei

b. 1978, Guangzhou, China

Cao Fei was born in Guangzhou in 1978, she lives and works in Beijing. Cao is part of a generation of Chinese artists who explore the far-reaching transformation in urbanisation and commercialisation that their country has undergone in the past few decades.

One of the first projects that gave her international recognition are based on her interest in the young Chinese people who are involved in the Japanese manga and anime culture and dress themselves as so-called cosplayers. In the film and photography series COSPlayers we see young people in imaginative costumes who stage fictitious battles in Guangzhou’s expanding urban landscape. The border between fiction and reality becomes particularly tangible when the extravagantly dressed cosplayers return to their families’ frugally equipped flats. The work addresses both youth culture and China’s urbanisation process. At the same time it highlights the ability of individuals to protect themselves from an alienating reality by seeking refuge in a fantasy world.


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© Astrup Fearnley Museet