Portrait: Cao Fei

In 2004, Cao Fei’s acclaimed video COSplayers introduced the world to teenagers dressing up as anime characters in the industrial landscapes of China’s Pearl River Delta. It was an early example of Cao’s investigations into the psychological and social effects of China’s rapid development. She has also explored the lure of the virtual with a city on Second Life, in which she created her own avatar, China Tracy. Her latest work is a VR production in which the viewer becomes a digital ghost that haunts real sites. Curator Hou Hanru, who was born in the same city as Cao, and has known her since 1999, spoke to the artist via WeChat to deep-dive into the origins and motivations of her work.

"Under this oppressive reality, I chose to apply a documentary technique that emphasises greater objectivity, blending it with my own personal dramatic cinematographic style." – Cao Fei

– This text appears in Spike #64 . You can buy it in our online shop