Cao Fei will unveil a new artwork in Shanghai this November.

Justin Kamp
Sep 9, 2020 9:38PM, via Press Release

Study for Cao Fei's upcoming installation, Isle of Instability, 2020, commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary. Courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet.

Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei will unveil a new multi-media work this November at the West Bund Art & Design art fair in Shanghai. Isle of Instability (2020) was commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary—a division of the luxury watch brand responsible for collaborating with contemporary artists—for its space at the fair. The work addresses the psychological implications of living in isolation, and was produced with the help of Cao’s daughter, who worked as an assistant and acted in the piece. The piece grew out of Cao’s time in Singapore, where she lived with her family during lockdown, unable to return to their home in Beijing due to international travel restrictions.

Cao described the impetus for the work in a statement:

Being away from home for so long, the foreign culture became familiar, the exotic cuisine became my go-to delicacy, the labyrinth of alleys became my daily routine, the strangers next door became my friendly neighbours, and I, once a guest of this country, became a resident. Lost in transition, certainty has become a luxury.

Cao’s multimedia practice has long focused on the day-to-day realities of living in isolation under modernity, with works such as Whose Utopia (2006) and Haze and Fog (2013) illustrating the alienation of individuals within societal constructs. She was scheduled to have her first solo institutional exhibition in China this year at the UCCA, but the show was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cao was also included in Artsy’s list of the 20 most influential artists in 2018.

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Correction: A previous version of this article categorzied Isle of Instability as a video work; it is a multi-media work. The text has been updated to reflect this change.

Justin Kamp