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Cao Fei: Supernova—on view 16 December 2021 – 8 May 2022 at MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome—is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Italy. The exhibition presents an in-depth reflection on the speed of change, the relationship between reality and fantasy, tradition and innovation. The works on display create an immersive journey that starts from the real and at times private places of the artist’s life including her neighbourhood, studio and home, before progressing into a surreal virtual future. 

Using language that is at once poetic, critical and ironic, Cao Fei addresses the most pressing issues of contemporary life. Her work takes us into the next millennium.

Cao Fei

The practice of Chinese artist Cao Fei (b. 1978) bridges film, digital media, photography, sculpture, installation and performance, all of which capture her fascination with human responses to the rapid technological developments of the last two decades. Cao Fei explores a set of broader ideas that resonate with our contemporary experience of the world. This includes the omnipresence of the virtual; technology’s potential to alter our perception of self and the ways in which we understand reality; systems of production and the automated factory infrastructure that facilitates our desire to consume; our relationship to architecture and built environments that are constantly changing; and the significance of memory and the ways in which the past can come to haunt the present.

Cao Fei’s works have been exhibited at a number of international biennales and triennials, including the Shanghai Biennale (2004), the 15th & 17th Biennale of Sydney (2006 and 2010), the Istanbul Biennial (2007), and the 50th, 52nd & 56th Venice Biennale (2003, 2007 and 2015). In 2016, Cao Fei received her first solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, New York. Cao Fei’s recent projects include solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019) and the Serpentine Galleries, London (2020). From March to June 2021, Cao Fei had her first major retrospective in mainland China at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing. Lastly, from December 2021 to May 2022, the MAXXI, Rome hosts the artist’s first solo exhibition in Italy.