Born in Tianshu, Gansu, in 1978, Cai Dongdong joined the People’s Liberation Army at a young age, taking up a role as a portrait photographer for enlisted soldiers. This job became his formal training in the medium, developing into a career path as he returned to Beijing and opened his own studio. Although Cai Dongdong no longer takes photographs himself, he still calls himself a 'photographer'; through the use of archival and found photography and installation, he creates half-fragmented realities. Taking readymade materials – a nod to Duchamp's Dadaist sensibilities – he pierces through the skin of these photographs with mirrors, arrows, and other objects, forming what he calls 'photo-sculptures.'

His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions worldwide, including "Fountain 泉," Klein Sun Gallery, New York, NY (2016); “Off Target: Cai Dongdong,” Charles Chu Reading Room, Connecticut College (2016); "Image Uterus Production Power," Gallery 55, Shanghai, China (2013); "Draftmanship," Mattias Kuper Galleries, Stuttgart, Germany (2012); "Tea Garden," UNIDEE Art Foundation, Biella, Italy (2011); and "51m: Cai Weidong," Taikang Space, Beijing, China (2010). Recent group museum exhibitions include “Ehe Exhibition go Annual Contemporary Art in China,” Beijing Minsheng Art Museum (2016); “Silk Road International,” Art Museum of Nanjing University of Arts, Nanjing, China (2016); "New Capital: Huang Yu Collection Exhibition," Museum of Contemporary Art, Chengdu, China (2016); “Guns and Roses,” Kunstraum, Potsdam c/o Waschhaus, Germany (2016); “Links – Locality and Nomadism,” The Galaxy Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing, China (2015-2016); “Beyond the Earth – The First Xi’an Contemporary Photography Exhibition,” Xi’an Art Museum, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China (2015); “Chinese Photography: Twentieth Century and Beyond,” Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China (2015); “Unfamiliar Asia: The Second Beijing Photo Biennial,” CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China (2015); "China 8: Contemporary Art from China on the Rhine and Ruhr," Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany (2015); “2nd Three Shadows Experimental Image Open Exhibition,” Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing China (2015); and “Pull Left – Not Always Right,” Urban Arts Space, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (2014), Hillstrom Museum of Art, Saint Peter, MN (2014); and "Unboundedness," China Cultural Center, Berlin, Germany (2013-2014).

Cai currently lives and works in Beijing.