Where: Eastside Projects, 86 Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham B9 4AR
What is it?
Cao Fei‘s Haze and Fog is a new type of zombie movie set in modern China made by one of the most important Chinese artists working today. Working with film, photography, installation and performance Cao Fei probes her personal and cultural relationship to metropolitan China.
Rather than positioning activity as good vs evil, Cao Fei’s major new video commission explores how the collective consciousness of people living in the time of what the artist calls “magical metropolises” emerges from seemingly tedious, mundane, day-to-day life. This magic reality is created through a struggle at the tipping point between the visible and the invisible.
Zombies have long been an important metaphor in popular culture. Often violently blank they allow for evil motives to be projected onto them. For Haze and Fog the artist’s starting points were U.S. TV show The Walking Dead and the horror adventure game Silent Hill. Both narrative representations focus on the protagonists’ search for equilibrium but approach concepts of terror in very different ways. The Walking Dead uses strong violence and shock, while Silent Hill creates a tense atmosphere through heavy fog and through the unseen. Cao Fei’s Haze and Fog sits between these positions, exploiting the ambiguity between victim and perpetrator, complicating distinctions between dead, mutilated and living flesh, and how individuals decide whose side they stand on.
The characters in Haze and Fog are symbolic characters of traditional and modern China. What at first glance may seem a critical glance at modernised Chinese culture in nostalgic favour of older wisdom, is a more complex use of characters to question our understanding of right and wrong, progress or tradition.
Cao Fei’s work often questions our understanding of real experience and the importance of fantasy in accepting our position in the world. Haze and Fog is Cao Fei’s most ambitious moving image work to date and is a joint commission produced by Eastside Projects and Vitamin Creative Space.
More info: eastsideprojects.org