About the “Assembly Line” Project

The “Assembly Line” is an ongoing series of works, which was initiated in 2010 by Li Xiaofei. It is a practice which is related to the process of social change in not only China but on a global scale.

Currently there are two phases to the project. The first phase from 2010-2013 focused on video not only as a form but also as a tool to analyze the assembly line. During this period, Li worked successively in the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas, Sweden, Norway, the US and New Zealand to shoot over 100 different kinds of factories, having dialogues and exchanges with people of different positions within the assembly line. He employed a "realtime" shooting technique which was difficult to control, mixed with the language of documentary and a fragmented interwoven approach to create a mutual restructuring and a transformation of the relationship between man and machine, in essence to reconstruct an illusory reality.

In Li Xiaofei's view, "Assembly Line" is a mode of production driven by capitalistic desire—it is repetitive, consistent, mechanical and devoid of emotion. At the same time, it is highly efficient, and can expediently expand the volume of production to create the maximum amount of value. This kind of repetition and consistency not only refers to the machine, but also represents the people in between and finally the products themselves.

Since 2013, Li Xiaofei has been primarily exploring what lies beyond the orderly-ness of the assembly line, the capitalist factory, consumer society, social progress, social mores—the reality of the people living in a highly systematic and institutionalized environment. In the past two years, he has used various artistic forms using "everyday objects" as his medium, using a non-narrative method to depict different landscapes and homes, to move people from different angles, from the observation of details to the whole, and to realize that that though it may look unremarkable or natural, it implies a profound social significance.

As the Assembly Line project progresses, it has morphed into a rich, diverse, complex and fascinating creative project. In 2015 Li Xiaofei established the Assembly Line Project Studio (ALPS), with the aim of making it a creative platform, possessing a flexibility and a certain open-minded approach to engage in communication with people for different professions, to explore related connections between the Assembly Line and to further extend the Assembly Line Project. At the same time with each phase of discussion and research, we invite different artists and scholars to participate and cooperate with us in an ongoing series of curated thematic events.