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Song Dong | 2015

Song Dong is installing a rock garden with a miniature landscape beside St Salvator Cathedral. The giant bonsai sculpture is made from the windows of demolished Chinese buildings. In large neon letters above the sculpture is written ‘Wu Wei’, a concept of Taoism that means ‘inaction’. This work expresses the tension between the unstoppable growth of megapolises and the treatment of heritage and nature. The impact of the cultural revolution on his family and the drastic ongoing urban demolition of his home city of Beijing are recurring themes in the work of Song Dong. This is also the case with the monumental installation that Song Dong is creating beside St Salvator Cathedral. The installation is based on the traditional art of bonsai, whereby man endeavours to dominate and control nature. In a dialogue with Bruges’ historical heritage, Song Dong refers to the situation in his own country, where heritage is handled in a dramatically different way. Historic palaces, temples and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed to make way for skyscrapers and shopping centres. Ironically, the original buildings are sometimes replicated. Song Dong creates a Chinese rock garden in Bruges, with a miniature landscape. He integrates old Chinese windows, which he saved from destruction, into the work. The windows simultaneously evoke stories and memories from the past, the present and the future of the city. In large neon letters above the sculpture is written ‘Wu Wei’. This Taoist concept means ‘inaction’ - doing by not doing, going with the flow of things. An invitation to reflection or an implicit criticism?





Song Dong
Song Dong (1966, Beijing, China) grew up in a prosperous, traditional family that was plunged into poverty by economic and social developments in China. During the Cultural Revolution, his father was placed in a re-education camp. Song broke off his painting studies after the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He started experimenting with performance and video, often in collaboration with his wife, Yin Xiuzhen. Dong’s work reflects on the instability of existence and the transience of human contributions. His family history, the politico-cultural history of China and the profound changes that urban Beijing is undergoing, are all recurring themes in his work.

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