From July 26, 2008 onwards
Beijing-based artist Cao Fei (born 1978) is fusing fantasy with the contemporary Chinese city in her construction of RMB City, an experimental art community in the internet-based virtual world of Second Life.
Cao Fei, through her Second Life avatar ‘China Tracy’, spent a year exploring the possibilities of Second Life and produced the i.Mirror trilogy, 2007, a series of films that document her adventures, which were presented in the Chinese Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007.
The Serpentine has commissioned the artist to present RMB City in the Gallery’s public space and to continue her investigation of this digital landscape and the development of RMB City. Once she has completed its construction in autumn 2008, the buildings of the virtual city will be occupied for two years by partners including institutions and individual collectors who will host exhibitions and cultural activities open to all Second Life users. The project explores the creative potential of an online art community, seeking to create the conditions for an expansive discourse about art, urbanism, economy, imagination and freedom.
Throughout the ‘construction process’ and actual operation period, the Gallery will show the progress of RMB City in its lobby and on its website. Reflecting on China’s recent urban and cultural explosion, the architecture of RMB City is an amalgam of Chinese icons, ancient and modern, from the panda to the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The installation in the Gallery’s lobby presents two- and three-dimensional visualisations of RMB City as well as computer access to a virtual viewing platform over the construction site, which features weekly video updates of the construction process. The public can also access the virtual city via the Serpentine Gallery website www.serpentinegallery.org and the project’s website www.rmbcity.com. Ultimately, this experimental online Utopia seeks to create the conditions for an expansive discourse about art, urbanism, economy, imagination, and freedom; in other words, the virtuality that forms our contemporary reality.
Developer of RMB City: Cao Fei and Vitamin Creative Space
Facilitator: Uli Sigg
Images at www.serpentinegallery.org/press
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