Song Dong was born in 1966 in Beijing, where he lives and works. His art is often ephemeral and uses mostly modest materials that reflect themes such as the transformation between past and present, memory and forgetfulness.
In 1989, he graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Capital Normal University in Beijing. Since the 1990s, the artist has become known globally for the creation of conceptual works. His artistic career combines many mediums including sculpture, installation, performance, photography, painting, and video. His subjects mainly examine changes in family dynamics and interpersonal relationships within a community, even from a hierarchical point of view. Waste Not (2005), the Chinese saying wu jin qu yong, is an installation that contains more than 10,000 domestic objects that were initially grouped by the artist’s mother, Zhao Xiangyuan, because she refused to throw out items unless it was strictly necessary. This habit was born from having personally experienced the major changes brought by Mao Zedong’s Great Cultural Revolution of China. In 2002, following the death of her husband, the desire to collect became an obsession, so Song and his sister decided to find a way to ease their mother’s grief. The result is the aforementioned installation that was shown for the first time in Beijing in 2005, and subsequently at MoMA in New York. With this work, the artist wants to convey the idea that people, everyday objects, and personal stories are constantly influenced by social and political factors of the country in which they live. He has exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2014), New York; the Mind Set Art Centre (2014), Taipei; Baro Galeria (2014), Sao Paulo; the Groninger Museum (2015), the Netherlands; and has participated in Glasstress Gotika (2015), Fondazione Berengo, Venice.