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Song Dong:Song Dong's Solo Exhibition at Zendai MoMA

Presented by: Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art
Supported by: Beijing Commnue
Dates: 7 September – 5 October, 2008
Venue: Gallery 1-4, Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art (No.28, Lane 199, Fangdian Road, Shanghai, China)
Artistic Director: Shen Qibin
Academic Director: Binghui Huangfu
Curator: Leng Lin
Project Manager: Yang Xinyu

The artist’s name, Song Dong, has been used as the title of the exhibition. In Song’s view, art is life. He intends to share with audience his views toward life and art through the exhibition. With meticulous attention to details of daily life, Song tends to make his art works smaller and more exquisite. Compared with many other artists, Song seems quite reluctant to give explanation of his works and his thoughts behind them. As far as he’s concerned, "too much explanation would restrain people’s power of perception." Nevertheless, this would not affect the increasing influence and reputation of Song Dong in the art field.

Song Dong has been engaged in contemporary art since 1988. So far, he has held many solo exhibitions both in China and abroad and participated in numerous group exhibitions. In 1996, he gave his performance Breathing at Tian’Anmen Square and Houhai Lake in Beijing. In the next year, his video installation, Slap, was put on display at Ruins for Arts in Berlin. In 1999, the performance video Jump was shown at both Beijing Tian"Anmen Square and Venice. In addition, he also participated in the Amsterdam Fest in the same year. His solo exhibition Eating Pen Jing (Bonsai) was held in Gasworks International Art Studio, London, in 2000. Three years later, he participated in Alors la Chine: Chinese Contemporary Art, which was held in Center Pompidou. Moreover, he won the Grand Award of Gwangju Biennale in 2006.

What distinguishes Song Dong from many other contemporary Chinese artists can be concluded as follows: 1. Song is never eager to label himself as a certain type of artist. His works cover a wide range, from installation, performance to new media and art shows. 2. Song is not willing to give too much explanation about his works. In his view, this will restrain people’s power of perception. Song sticks to this point of view even more since he has found out in recent years that the clearer his ideas are, the harder he can explain them. Such a state is exactly what he calls "clear vagueness". In Song’s view, an artist’s duty is to tell the audience something vague, undefined, and can be interpreted from multiple perspectives in a clear way.

In the entire realm of contemporary art, Song Dong’s art is personal and quotidian. Sometimes it seems to hide in a corner, unwilling to be discovered. Even in a large-scale opening-event work like "Edible City," the fundamental entertainment of the "eating", its plasticity, its eventual and inevitable disappearance-all conspire to engender a kind of endurable distance. This distance cannot be framed in terms of East and West or tradition and modernity. It is formed by difference between the quotidian nature of everyday life and the exacting requirements on contemporary life produced by this quotidianness. The globalization of contemporary art is turning this distance into a universally understood feeling, as the ineffable "hidden forms" similarly become yet another mode of contemporary expression. If we say that Song Dong’s art is hiding in a corner, then the "hiding" itself is extremely meaningful.

Text Courtesy: Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art