Finding myself in the dark, wet, industrial bowels of the defunct Battersea Power Station last week, I ultimately began to notice the Chinese video art. Most of it was beyond me and, lacking explanation, seemed wreathed in pretension as does so much video art. But I was very taken by one film. Cao Fei's "Whose Utopia?"
Indeed, could there be a more appropriate setting than a redundant UK power station for a film depicting the manufacture of various light bulbs in an Osram factory somewhere in China?
Some of the mechanical manufacturing processes were rendered strangely beautiful while the mind-numbing, eye-wearying banality of some of the ultra-repetitive manual tasks was resonant with implications. And then, as the piece moved into a more surreal phase, this slogan appeared,
If that doesn't encapsulate the goal of marketers, then I don't know what does. Our customers don't belong to us, we seek to belong to them and we succeed only as long as we continue to do so beautifully.
[I foolishly didn't take a camera, but these images will give you an idea of the scale of the place - a sign informed me bizarrely that the chimneys at 315 feet tall are higher than the Statue of Liberty!]