Cao Fei: HX

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Published to coincide with Cao Fei's exhibition Blueprints at the Serpentine Gallery in 2020 HX derives it's initials from her studio, the former Hongxia Theatre in Beijing, taking it as a starting point, and expanding out into neighbouring Jiuxianqiao and Dashanzi Districts.

Built in the mid 20th century in a district that changed rapidly from rural to industrial and where the first Chinese computer was invented the theatre served as a social space until it's closure in the run up to the 2008 Olympics. Cao Fei moved there in 2015 and working like an archaeologist she creates a time-space complex for an alternative version of the theatre and it's history.

This massive book begins with a collaborative text by Serpentine curators Joseph Constable and Rebecca Lewin on the exhibition, followed by a text by Cao Fei. Research-architect, archive editor and writer Jiang Jun considers how China’s modernisation over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has wavered between dependence and independence from geo-political forces; Research Scholar and Lecturer at Princeton University, Deborah Kaple, has written an introduction to the development of Sino-Soviet relations during the 1950s; Wang Hongzhe, Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Peking University, has written an essay on the development of the electronics industry during China’s Great Leap Forward (1958-62); curator and writer Yang Beichen’s text builds upon his research into Cao Fei’s studio, the Hongxia Theatre, and takes the form of a cinematic media-archaeology focused on her film, Nova; Architect Che Fei has written a text that discusses the origin and characteristics of architectural planning during the new collectivism that arose after China’s ‘reform and opening up’ period, and Zhao Song has written a new science-fiction story that bridges the history of Hong Xia and its possible future. The book closes with a new conversation between Serpentine Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Cao Fei and Yang Beichen, which took place at the artist’s studio in spring 2019.

Cao Fei is shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2021.

Title: HX
Publisher,Year: The Pavillion and Serpentine Gallery
Authors: Che Fei, Deborah Kaple, Jiang Jun, Wang Hongzhe, Yang Beichen, Zhao Song, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Joseph Constable & Rebecca Lewin.
Photographer: Cao Fei
Graphic Design: Sun Xiaoxi
Format: Hardback
Size: 24 x 17 cm, 512 pages
ISBN: 9781643706504