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Cao Fei: On ‘Whose Utopia’
Cao Fei: On ‘Whose Utopia’

The fact that this is a light bulb factory is meaningful. It sheds light on our materialistic world yet without simultaneously lighting up its inside or lighting up the workers’ lives.

Cao Fei

Cao Fei’s Whose Utopia juxtaposes shots of machinery in a lightbulb factory with the personal dreams of its workers.

Cao Fei produced Whose Utopia during her residency at a lighting factory in Foshan in the Pearl River Delta region. She began by giving factory workers—migrants with modest means and limited education—a questionnaire, asking about their backgrounds and prospects for the future.

She later invited some of them to break away from routine and perform their secret aspirations alongside production lines. In the video, she juxtaposes shots of modern machinery with scenes depicting personal dreams, thereby questioning the idea of utopia in an age of economic reform and globalisation.

Cao is known for her video and multimedia installations, which act as critical commentary on China’s recent rapid urbanisation and also function as a history of the Pearl River Delta.

This video was originally published on M+ Stories.

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