A guide to art in NYC, with families in mind.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cao Fei: Play Time

Play Time Fingerboard Park Installation, 2011
tech deck, fingerboard park, wood
Cao Fei
Escaped From The Garden
(PostGarden-Eye SPY Photo Series), 2011
Cao Fei
With her new exhibition at Lombard Freid Projects, artist Cao Fei blurs the lines between real and imaginary. Her new work evokes childhood games, fantasy worlds, and story-telling. One game is a small scale model of a finger skateboard  park which is placed prominently in the gallery space. Child sized stools are placed around to encourage the viewer to sit and move small skateboards around the wooden ramps. With a touch of the miniature board I was transformed into a skateboard kid gliding through an alternate world playground. A series of diptych photographs  present us with a group of characters called the CBeebies that were very popular on the BBC in the 1980s and still have a following on the web. They are seen traveling across real landscapes in search of a "PostGarden." Each image is placed alongside an exact double - or is it? In this game of Eye Spy, your children may have the advantage as they accept the imaginary scenarios more easily than our rooted-in-reality adult minds. As you pass the photographs a flat screen on the wall will stop your kids in their tracks. The star of this video is usually seen in books or in videos tooting along on his own train tracks. Ms. Fei envisions beloved Thomas the Tank Engine driving through city streets and across a highway in search of a place to dispose of refuse from a construction site. The improbability of the story had me in-check until our Thomas is seen getting a speeding ticket from the highway police. The nerve of that cop! The second room in the gallery displays a large projection screen showing a continual video of three narrative sequences. The stories are depicted exclusively with hand shadow puppetry. There are three tales in total and all are filled with fantastical images of farmers and cranes, wildlife and fairy tale creatures. Ms. Fei places the viewer in the space between fantasy and reality that younger children move in and out of so easily, because after all its only playtime. Perfect for all ages. The show runs until June 25.
East Wind, 2011
Cao Fei

Lombard-Freid Projects 518 West 19th street

All images courtesy of the artist and Lombard-Freid Gallery, NY.