Waste Not, 2006
photograph installation in the Waste Not exhibition,
BTAP, Beijing, 2005
Courtesy of the artist and Tokyo Gallery + BTAP
Song Dong has ben a significant figure in the development of Chinese
contemporary art since the early 1990s, emerging from a strong Beijing-based
avant-garde performance art community. His multi-disciplinary practice explores
notions of perception, transience and the ephemeral nature of existence.
Song Dong’s monumental installation Waste Not is a collaboration between the artist and his mother, Zhao Xiangyuan. The installation comprises the frame of his mother’s house along with all of the everyday objects she meticulously collected over the course of her lifetime: a collection of over ten thousand worn and broken objects, each one with unlimited potential value. Together, the assembled materials—clothes, books, kitchen utensils, toiletries, school supplies, shopping bags, rice bowls, dolls—were used, recycled, and saved. Meticulously arranged in careful groupings throughout the exhibition space, the objects form a miniature cityscape that viewers can navigate around and through.
Waste Not—or wu jin qi gong in Chinese—describes the philosophy of life for a generation of people in China, of which Song Dong’s mother was a part, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution with the experience of displacement, poverty and the constant shortage of goods. The installation stands as a record of his mother’s life, as well as a tribute to his father’s death.
Waste Not was first created in Beijng in 2005 and has since been exhibited internationally, at the Gwangju Biennale in Korea, as part of the exhibition Reimagining Asia in Germany and England, and in New York at the Museum of Modern Art. This is the first solo exhibition of Song Dong’s work in Canada
Song Dong’s Waste Not, organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, is the eleventh installment in NEXT: A Series of Artist Projects from the Pacific Rim, presented by TD Bank Financial Group. Curated by Daina Augaitis, chief curator/associate director, Vancouver Art Gallery.