Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu’s Managing Editor Zheng Shengtian Joined the Artists’ Roundtable Discussion on Song Dong at the Yerba Buena Center

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

A roundtable discussion focusing on the work of Song Dong, how it relates to that of other artists who emerged in the 1990s; the impact it has had on the younger generation of Chinese artists; and how it has been received both inside and outside of China. Participants include: Song Dong, Britta Erickson, Wu Hung, Zheng Shengtian.

The Artists’ Roundtable for the Song Dong exhibition is made possible by The W.L.S. Spencer Foundation.

Date: February 26, 2011, 2-4PM

Venue: Yerba Buena Center

About the Exhibition

Song Dong is known for his innovative conceptual videos and photography that quietly reveal the societal implications of modern China. They also express how he personally copes with his country’s rapid development, while retaining a spiritual connection to the past. A highly skilled artist, Song Dong’s works are especially powerful in expressing the effects of radical change and social transformation on members of his own family. It is this latter aspect of his work that has set him apart from the many extraordinary artists who have also been grappling with the rapid changes China is experiencing.

The centerpiece of Song Dong: Dad and Mom, Don’t Worry About Us, We Are All Well is the much heralded, large-scale installation Waste Not comprised of over 10,000 items ranging from pots and basins to blankets, bottle caps, toothpaste tubes, and stuffed animals collected by the artist’s mother over the course of more than five decades. This installation has been shown at prestigious venues across Asia, Europe and North America since it was first created in 2005, but YBCA will be the first venue to present Waste Not in a larger context of Song Dong’s work focusing on his family.

Waste Not follows the Chinese concept of wu jin qi yong or ‘waste not,’ as a prerequisite for survival. The project evolved out of a family necessity and the artist’s mother’s grief after the death of her husband. The assemblage of thousands and thousands of items takes up a 70 x 60 foot area that viewers can navigate around and through. The centerpiece of the installation is the architectural armature of the building where the artist was born. A core theme of Waste Not is the idea that people, everyday objects and personal stories are not only spiritually rich in thematic material but recognizable evidence of the impact of politics and history on family life.

The exhibition also features a selection of the artist’s videos, photographs and a newly commissioned work. Collectively, the works create a longitudinal portrait of Song Dong’s use of art as a way to form closer bonds with his mother and father, as well as his siblings, wife and daughter, and to express the power of the family as a social unit. Other works in the exhibition include Touching My Father (1997), Father and Son in the Ancestral Temple (1998), Listening to My Family Talking about How I Was Born (2001) and Chinese Medicine Healing Story (2011), all of which use photo-based imagery to consider familial identity, individuality and the legacy of ancestors.

Vist: http://www.ybca.org/song-dong

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