This video is set in a light-bulb factory and is divided into three parts. The first part, ‘Imagination of Product’, shows workers and machines producing and assembling light bulbs. The second part, ‘Factory Fairytale’, features individuals performing on a factory floor while others work in the background. These performances include a dancing woman dressed as a ballerina with wings and a man strumming a guitar. In the third part, ‘My Future Is not a Dream’, individuals face the camera, sitting or standing in the factory. Cao Fei developed Whose Utopia during her residency at a factory in the Pearl River Delta, in southern China. She sent questionnaires to workers, asking about their backgrounds and aspirations and collaborated with several of them, filming them acting out their dreams in the factory. Through close-up shots of the gestures and expressions of the individuals performing, the video makes visible the personality, creativity, and dreams of people against the grid-like environment and mechanical nature of their work. By juxtaposing personal dreams with a production line—a sign of China’s successful integration into the global economy—the work questions the idea of utopia.
Cao Fei (born 1978, Guangzhou) graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2001. She is known for her video, multimedia installation, and Internet work that reflects the rapid and chaotic urbanisation occurring in Chinese society. Cao lives and works in Beijing.