Cao Fei: Haze and Fog
21 September – 16 November 2013
Preview Friday 20 September, 6–8pm
Cao Fei, Haze and Fog (production still) 2013, Courtesy of Eastside Projects/Vitamin Creative Space
Cao Fei's 'Haze and Fog' is a new type of zombie movie set in modern China made by one of the
most important Chinese artists working today. Working with film, photography, installation and
performance Cao Fei probes her personal and cultural relationship to metropolitan China.
Rather than positioning activity as good vs evil, Cao Fei’s major new video commission explores
how the collective consciousness of people living in the time of what the artist calls “magical
metropolises” emerges from seemingly tedious, mundane, day-to-day life. This magic reality is
created through a struggle at the tipping point between the visible and the invisible.
Zombies have long been an important metaphor in Western popular culture but not so in China.
Often violently blank they allow for evil motives to be projected onto them. In the western zombie
film the zombie’s brain is dead but the body is alive. In ‘Haze and Fog’the ‘walking dead’ are
people with something dead inside only not their brain but their soul. The artist has departed
from the like of U.S. TV show ‘The Walking Dead’, or the horror adventure game ‘Silent Hill’, and
their protagonists’ search for equilibrium. Instead of strong violence and shock, or a tense
atmosphere through the unseen, Cao Fei’s ‘Haze and Fog’ examines people up close, slowly and
in detail. Zooming into the international modern cells of new immigrants moved from traditional
housing areas, we see people whose daily rituals have changed and traditions lost.
The artist focuses on the middle class people who have entered into this new fog of neutral
modernity in their house cells, and the community of people created around them as service
industries such as cleaners, real estate agents, prostitutes, deliveries, security and baby sitters.
‘Haze and Fog’ shows the miracles of the world are blurring and we need something special to
help us see more. Her film is about the invisible miracles of these potentially lost stationary lives.
The characters in ‘Haze and Fog’ are symbolic characters of traditional and modern China. What
at first glance may seem a critical glance at modernized Chinese culture in nostalgic favor of
older wisdom is a more complex use of characters to question our understanding of right and
wrong, progress or tradition.
Cao Fei’s work often questions our understanding of real experience and the importance of
fantasy in accepting our position in the world. This can be through an exploration of ‘cosplay’,
where game users dress as video game characters in real life, the digital realm of Second Life or
film work exploring Hip Hop culture’s impact in China.
‘Haze and Fog’ is Cao Fei’s most ambitious moving image work to date and is a joint commission
produced by Eastside Projects and Vitamin Creative Space. ‘Haze and Fog’ is commissioned by
University of Salford and Chinese Art Centre, Eastside Projects, and Bath School of Art and
Design, Bath Spa University, with Vitamin Creative Space. Supported by Arnolfini. Special Thanks to Elena Hill.
Media Partner for Cao Fei: Haze and Fog: KALEIDOSCOPE
Cao Fei (Born 1978, Guangzhou. Lives and works in Beijing, China.)
Cao Fei has exhibited widely around the world including Mobile M+, Hong Kong (2013), 29th Sao
Paulo Biennale (2010), 15th & 17th Biennale of Sydney (2006/2010), Moscow Biennale (2005),
Shanghai Biennale (2004), 50th Venice Biennale (2003), and was a nominee for Future
Generation Art Prize in 2010, and Hugo Boss Prize 2010 at Guggenheim Museum, New York. In
2006 Cao Fei won ‘The Best Young Artist Award’ by CCAA (Chinese Contemporary Art Award).