The NYU Shanghai Art Gallery’s first major exhibition of 2016, SONG Dong’s solo exhibition A Flourishing Void, opened on March 11, 2016.
SONG Dong, an internationally renowned Chinese contemporary artist, visited the NYU Shanghai campus in February 2016 and was fascinated by our university, a cooperative experiment in international education that is situated in the heart of China’s most important financial district. He compared NYU Shanghai to a laboratory operating inside a glass box, an observation which inspired his next conceptual project. After an intense period of creative labor in his Beijing studio, SONG returns to the NYU Shanghai Art Gallery with this large-scale, site-specific installation entitled A Flourishing Void.
In his current series Surplus Value, SONG is undertaking a conceptual exploration of discarded window frames from demolished constructions; Beijing Voice: SONG Dong Surplus Value was first exhibited at Pace Gallery in Beijing this winter. A Flourishing Void is a continuation of the series, which attempts to discover and create new value from objects largely neglected by people. In A Flourishing Void, SONG employs mirrors not only as physical objects, but as carriers of philosophical concepts central to his larger body of work.
What differentiates A Flourishing Void from SONG’s past works is the inspiration gained from his observation of NYU Shanghai’s cultural and geographical setting and its role as a global educational institution. In this installation, the gallery’s real windows interact with the discarded ones employed in the work, forming not only a visual space, but a reflective one. The installation evokes display windows, through which one can glimpse into interior spaces, although only in part and in fragments; after stepping inside, the viewer experiences the full visible interior, which is defined by twisted and reflected surfaces. Through this use of mirrors, the artist investigates the duality of reality and illusion, nothingness and significance.
This exhibition was presented by the NYU Shanghai Art Gallery antecedent (2015-17) to the ICA at NYU Shanghai.