Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interview with Song Dong(fromYi Shu Journal)

Song Dong has been a significant figure in the development of Chinese conceptual art since the early 1990s. His practice incorporates performance, photography, projection, video and installation. His political and financial circumstances have encouraged a solitary, meditative way of working in which ideas are expressed through inexpensive materials and small-scale works. In his photographic series and short video pieces, Song Dong uses sequenced images to explore a rapidly modernizing China and to capture notions of transience and illusion in contemporary society.

In this interview, first he mentioned two of his favorite works. Touching My Father(1998 )and Water Diary(1995-present). "Touching My Father" resorts to the medium of video to realize his dream to build the emotional bonds between him and his a culture that does not facilitate physical contact, touching his father in this way was a strong statement about the traditional relationship between fathers and sons as well as an attempt to bridge the generation gap that has appeared in China's recent development.

Water Diary is a work written with water on stone. For the past decade, Song Dong has employed a calligraphy brush dipped in water, rather than ink, to write his diary on stone. The hand-drawn text lasts for just a fleeting moment before it evaporates with the steam that arises from the hot stones surface. This practice allows Song Dong to keep his thoughts secret, while at the same time, provides the mental release inherent in traditional diary keeping.

I have also found another article in this yishu journal which was about cai guoqiang, I found it is an interesting contradiction that Song Dong’s work is the opposite of Cai’s gunpowder explosions. Cai’s gunpowder explosions are chaotic and leaves a permanent mark, Song Dong’s water diary only exists temporarily. But both of them borrow some traditional Chinese elements in their art creation, for example, Song uses a Chinese painting and calligraphy brush to write his water diary, and gunpowder is one of the famous four great inventions in China.

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