Cao Fei. Whose Utopia. 2006. Video (color, sound), 20:20 min. Anonymous promised gift. © 2020 Cao Fei. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space
  • MoMA, Floor 2, 212

In Whose Utopia, Cao Fei illuminates the human workforce behind one of the largest manufacturers of light bulbs in the world. Consisting of three parts, this video was shot during a six-month residency the artist participated in at the OSRAM lighting factory in the Pearl River Delta region of China. She not only documented the factory’s production processes but also collaborated with workers to develop performances that were staged throughout the facility. According to Cao Fei, her aim was to “release the workers from a standardized notion of productivity.”

During their performances, some of the factory employees wear regular clothing, while others choose to wear costumes;
some dance while others play guitar. These moments transform a space in which movement is highly controlled into one that allows for fluidity, play, and self-expression. It is possible that some of the lights made at this factory are currently illuminating the city beyond this gallery—where other workers are busy with their own routines.

Artist

Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].