Cai Dongdong

China 1978


Cai Dongdong
Cai Dongdong
December 28, 2014

Cai Dongdong is a Chinese artist, born in 1978 in Tianshui, China. His artistic practice explores visual resources between the East and the West in forms of theatrical play and performances and his final thought process is often presented in the medium of photography.He invites the viewer into a fragmented realm, one not yet done but not quite undone. His use of carefully selected, yet arbitrarily placed items challenge notions of false realities.

Surrounded by a cluttered room of personal relics and snapshots of Cai Dongdong’s past, a mother quietly breastfeeds her child, first welcoming you into the performance installation, Breast Feeding (2012). Yet Breast Feeding’s juxtaposition with the other staged photographs questions the voyeur’s ultimate understanding of reality. In the tradition of war photography, Cai’s The 8th of Lunar December (2008) depicts members of the Chinese Nationalist Party executing revolutionaries. Inspired by Goya’s The Shootings of May Third 1803, Cai re-appropriates the work to re-explore and re-evaluate perceptions of death. Yet Cai Dongdong’s hand selection of this stage’s various components leads to a satirical play on the notion of “shoot” by replacing an armed soldier with a camera-equipped photographer. To be shot signifies death but also an internment in history. Consequentially, Cai radically alters not only the event’s historical significance, but also its existence in photographic reality. The psyche’s attempt to avoid reality is inevitable, yet whether out of fear or disinterest, the documented reality will continue. In The Evasion of Light (2010), Cai Dongdong nods at the widespread yet underground “escort” services in China. Captured on camera by a policeman who is himself photographed standing just outside the set, 17 seated women turn and shield their faces. Yet one lone girl curiously stares upwards at her potential prosecutor, sitting on the ground perhaps just outside of the periphery of the policeman’s lens. Only the crime scene negative can conclude whether she was there or not. Whether she was actually documented in the damning evidence remains a mystery to not only those viewing the work, but also likely to the artist himself. Her existence is again captured by a removed observer, regardless of being documented by the viewer within. Incorporating the complexities of reality, Cai Dongdong’s elaborate sets create altering dimensions in which the significance and occurrence of events is altered. Further, the inclusion of a documenter within these sets pushes the psyche to question the truth of these dimensions, real and otherwise. For in both photographs and daily life, the intentional can only be deemed as such by he who has intended it to be.

Cai Dongdong held numerous exhibitions and is a recipient of the first prize of the 2010 The Third Terna Contemporary Art Award, in Italy. He currently lives and works in Beijing, China.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Beijing Voice: Unlived by What is SeenPace Beijing, BeijingGroup
2014Pull Left - Not Always RightOSU Urban Arts Space, Columbus, OHGroup
2014THE HOME ART PROJECT NO.1Space Regeneration, Tianjin, ChinaGroup
2014CIVILIZATION ROUND -LIN LVWhite Box Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2014Pleasures of the imaginaryYifeng Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2014Oh My GodACTION Gallery, Heiqiao, BeijingSolo
2013Dongdong Cai - Image Uterus Production PowerGallery 55 - Shanghai, ShanghaiSolo
2013From New Photography to Rookie Award: Three Shadows' CollectionThree Shadows Photography Art Centre, BeijingGroup
2013Image Uterus Production PowerGallery 55, Moganshan Road, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2013UnboundednessChina Cultural Centre, BerlinGroup
2012Cai Dongdong - DraftsmanshipMatthias Kuper Galleries, BeijingSolo
2012Conceptual Renewal - A Brief History of Chinese Contemporary Photographical ArtSi Shang Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2012Carnival-Hei Qiao Artist CommunityMizuma & One Gallery, BeijingGroup
2012EXHIBITIONTaikang Space, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2012Carnival-Hei Qiao Artist Community Mizuma & One Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2011CAI DONGDONG X GE LEI X SU WENXIANG X ZHAO YAOAether Art Space, Beijing, ChinaGroup
201051m square6# CAI WEIDONG Taikang Space, BeijingSolo
2009Chinese Art Critics Nominating ExhibitionMuseum of Contemporary Art Beijing (MOCA), "YOUTH" New York China SquareGroup
2008China’s Contemporary Photography in the New CenturyArtGate Gallery, New YorkGroup
2008See ThroughTang Contemporary Art, HongkongGroup
2008Fabricating lmages from History Chinablue Gallery, BeijingGroup
2008Outward lmagesThree Shadows Photography Center, BeijingGroup
2007AttitudeEastlink Genery, ShanghaiGroup
2006China and Taiwan Contemporary PhotographyDonggang Photography Museum, KoreaGroup
2005Re-viewing: Guangzhou lnternational Photo BiennaleGuangdong Museum of Art, ChinaGroup