“The materials of my art are people, events, time, because these things constitute life.”

Born 1986, Wuhan, Hubei

Feng Chen combines an impish sense of humour with a keen eye for human foibles. “I’ve always wanted to record typical Chinese behaviour,” he says, explaining his film Tofu (2007). Part documentary, part set-up, it captures the responses of passers-by to a loud argument staged in a Hangzhou city street between two actresses hired by the artist, who was secretly filming from a nearby rooftop. One woman, who is carrying a plastic bag of tofu, claims that the other woman bumped into her and smashed the tofu. People stop, observe, put in their two fen worth. One tries to help, others stare blankly. The effect is comical yet poignant. “I just wanted to show part of Chinese life, how people interact and how they react to things,” Feng Chen says. “Every time something happens, a crowd gathers, and they just stand there and watch, and nobody solves the problem.”

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