Between Past and Future
Song Dong
Song Dong, Breathing, Part 2 (1996). On a frigid New Year’s Eve, Song Dong carried out a performance in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, for a century the site of historic public gatherings and demonstrations. For 40 minutes he lay face-down, breathing onto the pavement until a thin layer of ice formed beneath his mouth—a symbolic attempt to “breathe new life” into a locale associated with the bloody events of June 1989. Presented as a large-scale lightbox-mounted color transparency, this work is accompanied by an audiotape of the artist softly breathing.
The works in this section explore the contemporary legacy of China’s past. Some artists, for example, update motifs drawn from the rich heritage of Chinese art. Still others examine the consequences of such recent historical moments as the Cultural Revolution, a period of traumatic upheaval that many of the artists experienced in their childhood.
Song Dong
Asia Society History and Memory Reimaging the Body People and Place Performing the Self International Center of Photography
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