Thursday, April 21, 2011

Xu Zhen and Song Dong

Xu Zhen was born in 1977 in Shanghai, were he is still based. His work employs a variety of media: photography, video, performance, painting and installation. Shortly after graduating from the Shanghai School of Arts & Crafts, he co-founded the artist-run space BizArt Art Center and has organized large scale exhibition such as “Art for Sale.” But in 2009, Xu announced that he would stop his work as a solo artist and instead function under the company name Madeln. Madeln allows Xo to collaborate with over 10 artists and expand the diversity of his work. His most famous work is 8848-1.86, which is an installation piece that includes film and sculpture. His team sawed off the top of Mount Everest (the 1.86m tall peak is included in the exhibit) and documented the process through film and photography. The tools he used are also included in the exhibit. 
Song Dong was born in Beijing in 1966. His work also uses various media, mainly performance, video, photography and sculpture. My favorite work of his is his exhibition at MOMA in 2009, titled “Waste Not.” The exhibit, which was located in the second floor projects gallery atrium of MOMA was, in effect, a tangible record of his mother’s (Zhao Xiangyuan) life. His mom was a hoarder, and after her husband died in 1989, the hoarding only got worse. Everyday object like shopping bags, bowls, chopsticks, etc. would enter their tiny Beijing home and never leave. In 2005, Song asked his mother if he could turn her home into an exhibit and she agreed, but only if Song’s sister, Song Hui, would help. The exhibit was first displayed in Beijing, and then at MOMA. The exhibit itself contains Zhao’s refrigerator and bed and then piles upon piles of meticulously folded clothing clusters of bottles and cans, groupings of stuffed animals. As a finishing touch, Mr. Song created a neon sign reading, “Dad, don’t worry, Mum and we are fine,” and hung it over the installation.
I like that both artists’work tends to question everyday life and is fairly relatable for the everyday person.

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