RMB City Opera

February 04, 2011 - June 05, 2011

Locations: Bloch Building, Gallery L8

Running time:  45 minutes
Parental Discretion is Advised

Cao Fei (born 1978) lives and works in Beijing. She is part of the young generation described as New Human Beings, who embrace popular consumer culture and all things global, diverse, old, new, intellectual and non-intellectual. Using computers, cell phones and social media, this generation hopes to undermine China’s political system.

Second Life is an online virtual community inhabited by avatars—imaginary characters created by their real-life masters. In Second Life, avatars play, socialize, develop businesses and pursue educational and creative opportunities, often related to art, design and architecture.

Cao Fei describes RMB City (2008–2010) as “an online art community in the virtual world of Second Life.” The city reflects China’s building boom and economic prowess. It takes its name from renminbi, the official currency of China. RMB City is imaginative, with no nationalities or borders. It represents endless possibility.

RMB City Opera
This video—RMB City Opera—highlights RMB City’s virtual cityscape. It includes many emblematic sites such as Tiananmen Square and the Beijing Olympic Stadium. During the video, the viewer enters the city, soaring through and amongst its architectural wonders.

In RMB City Opera a man and a woman interact as actors on a stage and as avatars in the virtual world. Inspired by propaganda operas from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, RMB City Opera includes characters in Red Army uniforms. Batman and Batwoman, Superman and Superwoman are also among the cast.

RMB City Opera is rich in content. It explores the idea of play, romance, identity, utopia/dystopia, communication/isolation, the nature of reality and the global, interconnected world in which we live. This is its American debut.

Cao Fei, Chinese (b. 1978). RMB City Opera, 2009. Courtesy of RMB City.© 2010 RMB City Project developed by Cao Fei (SL: China Tracy) and Vitamin Creative Space.

This exhibition is supported by the Campbell-Calvin Fund and the Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for exhibitions and the Rheta A. Sosland Fund.