Song Dong

Song Dong

Carriageworks / 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Song Dong, Waste Not, 2005/2009/2012. Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy of the artist and Tokyo Gallery + BTAP.

January 4, 2013

Song Dong: Waste Not 
5 January–17 March 2013 

245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, NSW 
Free entry 

Song Dong: Dad and Mum, Don’t Worry About Us, We are All Well  
5 January–30 March 2013 

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 
181-187 Hay Street, Sydney NSW 
Free entry

This summer Carriageworks and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in association with Sydney Festival will present two exhibitions by one of China’s preeminent artists, Song Dong.

Presented at Carriageworks, Waste Not is a monumental installation conceived by the artist following the death of his father and represents the artist’s mother’s process of mourning and remembrance. Consisting of the entire contents of her house, Waste Not reflects a journey of hardship and grief, resulting in a display of personal resilience and ultimately a celebration of life. 

Presented at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Dad and Mum, Don’t Worry About Us, We are All Well is an important survey of Song Dong’s work from the past three decades. The exhibition contains video, photographic, neon and installation work and reinforces the power of simple actions and the process of remembering. Song Dong’s work evokes the experience of social and cultural dislocation as well as the compelling connections between parents and children. 

Beijing-based artist Song Dong has been at the forefront of conceptual art in China for more than three decades and has become known for his personal performances and installations. 

Recently presented to high acclaim at MoMA (New York) and the Barbican (London), Waste Not will be presented exclusively in Australia at Carriageworks, as part of the official Sydney Festival 2013 program. Combined with 4A’s survey show Waste Not also represents Song Dong’s first solo exhibition in Australia.

First created in 2005, Waste Not has been described as one of Song Dong’s most powerful and poignant works. The work consists of more than 10,000 domestic objects and family items collected by the artist’s mother over five decades, ranging from household pots and pans, to blankets, bottle tops, toothpaste and toys. Through the work, Song Dong sought to give his mother “space to put her memories and history in order.” 

“Through this work I wished to reconnect my mother with people and give her a new start in life,” Song Dong explained about Waste Not

Whilst the installation was originally conceived to assist his mother in her grieving for her late husband, the work took on additional meaning when Song Dong’s mother passed away suddenly in 2009. Today, the artist sees the installation as a tribute to his parents, as well as a meditation on family life. 

The title of the work Waste Not makes reference to the Communist saying hailing from the Chinese Cultural Revolution ‘wu jin qu yong’, which literally translates to ‘waste not.’ This adage encouraged citizens to save and reuse objects: an essential life practice during periods of social and political turmoil in China.

About Carriageworks 
Carriageworks presents a contemporary multi-arts program that engages artists and audiences with contemporary ideas and issues. The program is artist-led and emerges from Carriageworks’ commitment to reflecting social and cultural diversity. The Carriageworks artistic program is ambitious, risk-taking and unrelenting in its support of artists. Carriageworks is a cultural facility of the NSW Government and is supported by Arts NSW. The Carriageworks program can be viewed at

About 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is Australia’s peak national body for contemporary Asian art and cultural thinking. 4A is a highly regarded pioneering organisation that fosters excellence and innovation in contemporary Asian and Australian culture through research, documentation, development, discussion and presentation of contemporary visual art. 4A’s aim is to ensure contemporary visual art plays a central role in understanding the dynamic relationship between Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. 4A occupies a unique position in the Australian contemporary art world and in the contemporary art discourse of the Asian region. Its position is based on its long-term focus on living Asian cultures (as opposed to traditional arts); its support of Asian-Australian artists; its close relationship with artists; its curatorial innovation and commitment to excellence and its program that leads the national discussion of the Asian-Australian context.

Song Dong at Carriageworks and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
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Carriageworks  / 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
January 4, 2013

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