Hope from Chaos: In Conversation with Cao Fei

Chinese contemporary artist Cao Fei discusses how her work, Isle of Instability, responds at a personal level to her time living under pandemic lockdown with her family.

Isle of Instability is the artist’s first large-scale installation exhibited since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The work was imagined and produced in Singapore, away from her home and studio in Beijing, with her daughter serving as an assistant and actor. During the period, Cao Fei developed the idea of using her everyday lived experience to create an artwork from items that had become incredibly important to her.

Using videos, drawings, photographs and objects, Cao Fei created a multi-media installation that reflects on the realities of daily life under such extraordinary circumstances. The work also offers solace to the public and the opportunity to converse about shared experiences and the ways in which humanity deals with uncertainty.

Three years into the pandemic, artists and scientists contemplate isolation and innovation in this companion talk series of Hope from Chaos exhibition. Hear more about artistic practices around the world which reflect the complexity and nuance of an unfolding reality, and find out how scientists in Singapore are stepping up research to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak.

About the Artist

The practice of Chinese contemporary artist Cao Fei bridges film, digital media, photography, sculpture, installation and performance, all of which capture her fascination with human responses to the rapid technological developments of the last two decades. Cao Fei explores a set of broader ideas that resonate with our contemporary experience of the world. This includes the omnipresence of the virtual; technology’s potential to alter our perception of self and the ways in which we understand reality; systems of production and the automated factory infrastructure that facilitates our desire to consume; our relationship to architecture and built environments that are constantly changing; and the significance of memory and the ways in which the past can come to haunt the present.

Cao Fei’s works have been exhibited at international biennales and triennales, including the 50th, 52nd & 56th Venice Biennale (2003, 2007 and 2015) and more. In 2016 Cao Fei received her first solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, New York. Cao Fei’s recent projects include solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019) and the Serpentine Galleries, London (2020). In 2021 she staged a major retrospective Staging the Era at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, and a solo exhibition at the MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome.

About the Exhibition

Hope from Chaos marks the second anniversary of the arrival of the COVID-19 virus into Singapore. Discover the science of infectious diseases and reflect on life during a global pandemic.

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