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Artist Song Dong's Collaboration with His Mother to be Installed in MoMA's Marron Atrium
Song Dong, Waste Not, 2005. Courtesy of Tokyo Gallery + BTAP.

NEW YORK, NY.- As part of its ongoing Elaine Dannheisser Projects series, The Museum of Modern Art presents Projects 90: Song Dong, featuring the large scale installation Waste Not (2005) by the Beijing-based artist, on view for the first time in the United States. Initially a collaboration with his mother, Zhao Xiang Yuan (1938-2009), the installation—which covers nearly 3,000 square feet of The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium—comprises all the contents of her home, amassed over the course of 50 years during which the concept of “waste not” (wu jin qi yong in Chinese) was a requisite guideline for survival for the generation that lived through the hardships of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969/76).

Song Dong (b. 1966) initiated the collaboration with his mother in an attempt to wrest her from her grief following the death of his father in 2002. The installation includes the house itself, countless cups, pots, basins, folded and piled up shirts, buttons, ballpoint pens, bottle caps, bags, tubs, toothpaste tubes, neckties, 10-liter oil flasks, handbags, skipping ropes, stuffed animals, and dolls. Sorted by type, the materials are lined up alongside one another, forming a miniature cityscape that viewers can navigate around and through. In the process of organizing and arranging the goods, the baggage of the past was unpacked and his mother’s intended goal of waste not was fulfilled as these materials now have another life in the work. Tragically, Zhao died unexpectedly earlier this year, adding poignancy to the neon sign hanging in the installation that reads “Dad, don’t worry, mum and we are fine.” It remains a family project as the artist is assisted in the installation by his sister, Song Hui, and his wife Yin Xiuzhen.

On view June 23 through September 21, 2009, Projects 90 is organized by Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, and Sarah Suzuki, The Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr., Assistant Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books, The Museum of Modern Art. The Projects series is coordinated by Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director, The Museum of Modern Art.

Song Dong, who lives and works in Beijing, has been at the forefront of conceptual art in China since the 1990s. Known for combining aspects of performance, video, photography, sculpture, and installation, Song’s works are often ephemeral and utilize modest materials that explore notions of transience and impermanence in personal, local, and global spheres. He has long been part of a traditional, tight-knit Beijing community, and his work reflects the everyday concerns and realities of his neighbors. Song graduated from the Normal University in Beijing in 1989 and has exhibited widely in Asia and abroad. Recent exhibitions include Song Dong (2008) at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai; Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China (2004-2006) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; and Oalors, a chine: Chinese Contemporary Art (2003) at the Center Pompidou in Paris. His work was presented at the 2004 Sao Paolo Biennale in Brazil and at the 2003 Istanbul Biennale. He was also shown in the exhibition Inside Out: New Chinese Art Exhibition (1998) at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center.

Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, joined the Museum in the early 1970s and founded the Museum’s video exhibition and collection programs. Ms. London organized the upcoming exhibition Looking at Music: Side 2 (2009) and past exhibitions Looking at Music (2008), Automatic Update (2007), River of Crime (2006), Stillness: Michael Snow and Sam Taylor-Wood (2005), Anime!! (2005), Music and Media (2004), TimeStream (2001), a web commission by Tony Oursler; a series of Web projects undertaken in China, Russia, and Japan; Video Spaces: Eight Installations (1995), and Projects shows with Nam June Paik, Shigeko Kubota, Peter Campus, Thierry Kuntzel, and Steve McQueen, among others.

Sarah Suzuki, the Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Assistant Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books at The Museum of Modern Art, joined the Museum in 1998. Previously, Ms. Suzuki organized the exhibitions Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities (2008), Projects 86: Gert & Uwe Tobias (2007), Focus: Elizabeth Murray (2005), an exhibition of Murray's editioned works in conjunction with the artist's MoMA retrospective, and has collaborated on numerous other exhibitions including Eye on Europe: Prints, Books & Multiples/1960 to Now (2006); The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910–1934 (2002); and Collaborations with Parkett: 1984 to Now (2001).

Museum of Modern Art | Song Dong | Cultural Revolution | Chinese Contemporary Art | Center Pompidou | Istanbul Biennale | Sao Paolo Biennale |

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