In 2009 at MoMA, the Chinese artist Song Dong exhibited a collection of objects: furniture, books, kitchen utensils, shopping bags, clothes, plastic bottles, shoes, empty toothpaste tubes; in fact, everything that had accumulated in his mother’s house in Beijing over a period of nearly 60 years.
His mother, Zhao Xiangyuan, lived in a tiny house with her husband and two children. She came from a wealthy family that lost everything when one of its members was imprisoned as an anti-Communist spy, and lived through the poverty of the 60s and the Cultural Revolution. She was obsessively frugal and refused to throw anything away, or move out and part with her possessions, until Song Dong proposed an art project to meaningfully recycle and preserve them. Continue reading “Collecting, hoarding and making art”