ART & DESIGN

Meet Artist Cao Fei, the Gucci Favorite Taking Over MoMA PS1

Cao Fei‘s exhibition now up at MoMA PS1 might be her first-ever museum show in America, but the Beijing-based multimedia artist is having no trouble settling in. She kicked things off this past weekend with a Chinese food-themed rock show, prancing around a stage hung with cardboard butcher meat cutouts in a propeller hat and a bright red embroidered Gucci track suit. It was a fitting ensemble: Cao is one of the artists Gucci designer Alessandro Michele hand-picked for the brand’s GucciGram project, a collaboration revealed recently at Art Basel Hong Kong. (Although her photo series put the brand’s Tian print in the context of contemporary China, which is the basis of much of her social commentary, she kept things irreverent and cheeky, like when the print showed up on a pair of underwear.) Mixing commentary with fantasy, in her PS1 exhibition Fei has also immersed herself in Chinese cosplay communities and dived into the online virtual world Second Life. Whether in real life or as her video game avatar, China Tracy, she’s a delight to behold.

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Cao Fei wearing Gucci at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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Cao Fei and the Notorious MSG at MoMA PS1. Photo by Charles Roussel.

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The Gucci Tian print featured in Cao Fei’s 2016 series, “Nowhere,” exclusively for GucciGram Tian.

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The Gucci Tian print featured in Cao Fei’s 2016 series, “Nowhere,” exclusively for GucciGram Tian.

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The Gucci Tian print featured in Cao Fei’s 2016 series, “Nowhere,” exclusively for GucciGram Tian.

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Cosplayers Series: “A Ming at Home,” 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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Cosplayers Series: “Tussle,” 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“Haze and Fog,” 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“Haze and Fog,” 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“Haze and Fog,” 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“RMB City: A Second Life City Planning,” 2007-2011. Video by Cao Fei and Second Life avatar China Tracy. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“Un-Cosplayer Series: Bunny’s World,” 2004. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“RMB City: A Second Life City Planning,” 2007. Digital print by Cao Fei and Second Life avatar China Tracy. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

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“RMB City: A Second Life City Planning,” 2007. Digital print by Cao Fei and Second Life avatar China Tracy. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.