Beijing based artist Song Dong used performance, photography, video and installation to explore ideas of transience, perception and the ephemeral nature of existence. His works are acute observations and critiques of the current political, social and economic changes that are transforming China into a freewheeling capitalist environment. Rather than making a simple commentary, Song Dong’s work is more inward looking, reflecting on personal circumstances and philosophies to help him relate to the “outside world”.The exhibition grouped together some of his most important works related to water, including Stamping the Water (1996), Breathing (1996), Fill the Sea (1997), Cold Boiling Water (1997) Picking up the Moon From the Water (2001), abd Floating (2004). The installation also featured several new works by the artist. Installation You Can Write Anything with Water invited visitors to document their own thoughts using just water to write on large stones from a local quarry. The work was inspired the artist own practice of writing a diary in water on the same stone since 1995, action to focus on the experiential element of writing. Drinking the City, was an temporary installation made of glasses containing coloured water at the exhibition preview night. Guest were encourages to drink the contents of the ‘city’ of glasses rather than simply admiring its shiny façade. Song Dong also created a series of 12 water filled books, Water Works, which were presented to the Centre’s library. The works wants to describes water as an element that exists everywhere and through its travels and transformations (from liquid, to solid and vapour) it becomes the repository of experiences and knowledge. Water Mats were also a series of coasters that visitors to the exhibition can take home as a souvenir. As a useful item, the mats are often stamped with our drinks, making marks of a personal history through water.
The exhibition preview was held on the 2nd December as part of the Centre’s 1st birthday celebrations. Other events associated with the exhibition included: ‘Meet the Curator (1st February) and ‘Inspired by Water Works’ (8th February). The exhibition was supported by ArtistLinks and Visiting Arts.