Born in 1978, Cao Fei is one of the youngest and best-known artists in the exhibition. Working in performance, photography, writing, sound, short and feature length film, she is widely regarded as the leading figure of the ‘new generation’. Whose Utopia? was produced as part of the Siemen’s Art Program, ‘What are they doing here?’, in which artists were invited to make work as part of a residency in a factory. Cao Fei chose the Osram lighting factory located in Foshan, near her home in southern China.
Whose Utopia? documents the conditions faced by an increasing number of workers, as factories like Osram move their production to China, further integrating the country into the global economy. The repetitive work is contrasted with dreamlike episodes in which the workers act out their private dreams. The work is lyrical in its portrayal of subjective dreams within a working context, and of individual subjectivity in a rapidly mechanized world, in which individuality has traditionally been subordinate to class or other abstract and generic groupings.