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Song Dong's Solo Exhibition at MoMA

MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) is to have Song Dong’s solo exhibition in the coming June of 2009, which will be the first solo exhibition that MoMA, the museum for modern and contemporary art founded 80 years ago, has ever had for contemporary Chinese artists. Waste Not, the work Song Dong is going to show this time, was a collaboration between the artist and his mother Zhao Xiangyuan in 2005. Though actually is a presentation of all kinds of daily life things ranging from kitchen wares, furniture, and clothes, etc., that Song’s mother Zhao Xiangyuan has accumulated all through her life, the work will occupy a surprisingly large area. Living her early years in the harsh time, Zhao has been convinced of the idea of “waste not”, which is probably shared by many Chinese of her generation. People of that time believed that anything that can be of even a little use in their life should not be thrown away. This can be called their collective wisdom or unconsciousness to live on in extremely difficult conditions. The country’s enduring economic growth since the late 1970s has changed the living situations of its people, and the meaning of such accumulation of used life objects as well, but the “collection” of Zhao surely bear the memory of life and traces of the past.


It is always hard to categorize Song Dong’s art. Most of his works are personal, quotidian and do not seem to have a definitive purpose. In the preface to his exhibition “Song Dong in Beijing Commune”, Leng Lin, the curator, said that Song’s art has a “hidden form”. And he keeps going on his own exploration that looks so hidden in the noisy contemporary art scene. The exhibition in MoMA can be viewed both as a recognition for Waste Not and Song’s exploration of possibilities of contemporary art.