Friday, August 21, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not


There is an incredibly fascinating and rich exhibition going on right now at the Museum of Modern Art called Waste Not. In his first solo museum show in the United States, Beijing artist Song Dong created an installation piece consisting of the entire contents of his mother's home. Every item, most being utilitarian household objects, becomes meaningful given the context of the Chinese concept of wu jin qi yong, which translates to waste not.


As stated in the accompanying artist book "Not long ago, because of the shortage of goods, the anxiety instigated by political instability, and the traditional virtue of frugality, people saved everything for future usage, including junk and rubbish. Bits of fabric left from making clothes or dust-covered bottles and jars, brick and timber from demolished houses or yellowed magazines and posters from a bygone era --- these objects were gathered piecemeal with insistence and determination. Day after day, year after year, they gradually formed a particular kind of family property, filling the limited space of a household and setting the physical surrounding for a family's day-to-day activities"


The exhibit is set up so you are able to walk through the contents of his mother's home and view close-up the objects that represent a life. The exhibit runs through September 7.








58 comments:

sf said...

Saw this in the Times. Incredible concept!

Jeane said...

wow, amazing Seth! thanks for sharing this :)

Jo Horswill said...

Seth, this is truly heart touching stuff.
Jo

Lawendula said...

If that's ok, I will post about this very amazing exhibition on my German blog.

Kim said...

How cool is this! the ultimate stash! LOL! I thought mine was growing but it pales into insignificance now!

Philip said...

Fascinating idea!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Some of the patterns made by those piles of "stuff" are so interesting in themselves. Maybe we are too much of a "throw-away" society - for example in the old days our grannies made quilts out of old shirts and rugs out of old coats - now we seem to just dump everything. There is real beauty in some of those photographs Seth.

luthien said...

fascinating!! in a normal affluent world this would all have been just trash. in his world, they are memories and hard earn goods, in an artist world, they are art... that's what's fascinating ... and wonderful!!

lyle baxter said...

seth,it must be very moving to stand and look at someones entire life! we in our secure little space just have no idea. thank you, lyle

Gillian McMurray said...

Now I know what to do with all those empty toothpaste tubes ;o)

nancy neva gagliano said...

OMG

marianne said...

very cool- thanks for sharing. i am reminded of cleaning out my czech grandmother's house in chicago after her death. she came over from czechloslovakia, lived through the depression and never had much. this puts her collection of fabric and seeds and buttons and things in a different light for me. and the photos are beautiful- you've really captured the installation.

m. heart said...

Wow. That is amazing. The way the various objects and shapes are arranged together is so visually appealing.

I wish the exhibit was running for just a bit longer...

~Barb~ said...

Talk about an amazing exhibition! I remember after my Mom died, cleaning out her house...it was melancholy and comforting and insanely amusing at the same time. LOL
Peace & Love,
~Barb~

MrCachet said...

I'm lusting after the bundles of paper, Seth!

steven said...

can you imagine emptying the contents of a typical suburban household and organizing them like this? steven

ooglebloops said...

What is one woman's trash/collection/hoard/safety net- becomes art(and a statement) when seen thru the right eyes.........it's wonder-full!!!
Thanks for sharing, Seth.

ooglebloops said...

A question - is that the size of the woman's actual house - and all that was saved inside? If so, wow!!!

Bea said...

Even what we collect put in the right arrangement is art. I still that that goes back to the belief that our soul is our creative force and it is expressing itself all the time we just get in the way most of the time. :)Bea

Laura said...

My first reaction: I gotta get rid of some of the stuff in my house, I have too much junk.

My second reaction: Boy that's a colorful, graphic display.

My third and final reaction: How can all that have fit in that small house? There would have been no room left to move!

Wait no, I'm back to the colorful graphic reaction now!!

Lost Aussie said...

Great exhibition, thanks for sharing!

Billie said...

And I thought I was a horder!!

One small decision to keep a few things, just in case....and this is the result.

I have a family member just like this..no names no pack drill as they used to say ;)

Billie

Lynn said...

That must really be something to see, thanks for sharing it with us :)

Kimmie said...

amazing ..... I love how it's so tidy and neatly laid out. I wish I could see it in person

Art by Julie H. said...

Very cool, thanks for sharing your trip. What was the most interesting things you saw in all of that stuff?

Jo Reimer said...

Thanks for sharing this show with those of us who can't go. As a collage artist I found myself coveting the bundles of paper, and then I thought about how it would look if I bundled my own paper collections like that. I once saw a collection of old Japanese field clothes, all indigo blue, and all patched and darned with such care, making these humble clothes into beautiful garments.

Julie Prichard said...

Super cool, Seth!

elk said...

thank you seth for featuring this...it is strange and wonderful~

Roberta said...

This really does take your breath away...I can't stop looking at the photos! What a way to document a life!

They would need a whole city block to spread out the stuff I've saved in this house...mixed media artists are hoarders, yes??? :-)

Thanks for sharing this...extremely fascinating!

Roberta

diane said...

If my daughter could get to this one, this would be the one she'd want to get to! LOL. What an amazing exhibit.
Thank you always for sharing all the great exhibits going on in your world =)

Scott said...

Wow! not to be missed, by me anyway.
since I am here in NYC
thanks for posting this.

steph said...

very.very. cool pics!
i would so love to see this IRL

layers said...

I love MOMA and also installations.
I have also seen some fabulous installations. This one reminds me of my Japanese mother who never ever throws away anything-- she washes out used paper towels and hangs them everywhere to dry! I really think I could do the same sort of installation with all her 'stuff'!

Susan M said...

My mother kept stuff. Forever. Her doctor said it was OCD. Obviously he was lacking an artistic eye!

Coastcard said...

Wow!

Linda Moran said...

Seth - you might also enjoy this artist - http://www.chrisjordan.com/ - interesting and fascinating look at waste and destruction in this country. Really enjoyed the pics of the exhibition.

Junk Sophisticate said...

Wow. I am happy you stopped by my blog. This exhibit is amazing!
Candy

Junkin' Yaya said...

Great post...my "yayo" buddy! This artist definitely makes a person realize just how much "waste" we have and continue to have in our life! Thanks for sharing...xo...deb

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Incredible thing to see and ponder. Thank you for sharing. I will be thinking about this for days. (and only a tiny bit of me will be thinking about how I could go through all of those delicious piles of bundled papers to snag some for art use)

Joan@anythinsggoeshere said...

I saw the article about this exhibit in the New York TImes and wanted to be able to see the details and here they are. Isn't that just the most wonderful concept!

Dayna Collins said...

Interestingly enough, I save lots of my stuff that others look at as junk! There is something amazing about seeing it all laid out like this.

Marie said...

Such a generous and personal exhibition you have shared. The context and composition is almost overwhelming.
I am a regular estate sale-er. I always feel that every home is a museum of individual creativity and would love to some day make a estate sale journal of my feelings & experiences over the years. Sometimes there is such a sweet vibe in the home I just have to buy some little thing,,,even a homemade pot holder.
Thanks for posting this. My favorite photo was the empty tubes of toothpaste!

studioJudith said...

Remarkable.
I'm speechless.

JJjj

Lynn said...

My first thought (as a therapist of mental health disorders) I thought his mother had died and that she had had OCD. Obsessive Compulive Disorder part of which caused her to horde items, which I guess she was...but not for a political reason, but fear and the inability to part with anything. Either way it made for a curious and appealing art exhibit. I kept wondering what else I could turn those pieces into...I bet you too wished you could take all the books bound up home.

Heather said...

Seeing a hoard of such ordinary objects is very humbling. We take so much for granted here in the west and don't value what we have. There is such precision in those arrangements and in their presentation - I am amazed at the power in this installation and the effect it has.

A rambling rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A rambling rose said...

This reminded me of my friend's father (a librarian) who hoarded rubbish in every room of the house until his death - she is an artist and still working with the material- in a very different way though! her father had altzeimers and during his last months labelled everything along with instructions in case he wasn't able to remember - she has a fascinating and life long archive to work with! thanks Seth

rivergardenstudio said...

I love these photographs Seth, thanks so much for sharing. My favorite is the one of the bundles of envelopes...Roxanne

ArtPropelled said...

Wow! I love the way it is all neatly stacked and arranged.... especially the bundles. It makes an amazing exhibition on the one hand but on the other hand I would hate it if my daughter put all my stuff on exhibition.

mansuetude said...

incredibly beuatiful and true... the pattern and the hoarding; the need! We have so much to learn in USA... there is wisdom in this, and personally, the toothpaste, all those days of doing the small things. T.S.Eliot wrote, we measure our life out in coffee spoons.

It is the daily little acts that do collage a life.

Thanks (a million times)* :)

alteredbits said...

this is so amazing! thank you so much for sharing, seth. i hadn't heard of this. all those treasures -- wow! the photos are beautiful and i could sure put great use to many of those items (as i'm sure most of us could!). how wonderful to be able to visit such a wonderful exhibition!

deb said...

I cannot even say how much I wish I could see this, and how grateful I am no one is going to empty my house into such a space, wow what a collection I would make!

BT said...

That is so incredible. I dread to think how much room you would need if someone did that to my belongings! The Albert Hall in the UK maybe! Fascinating exhibition, thanks for sharing Seth.

Lisa H said...

Hey, how'd they get photos of my studio????

marit said...

I have been away for a while, so I had some catching up to do.... inpiring as always! Got my head spinning and ideas tumbling down my head right now! Thanks Seth!

Chris said...

oh, come ON!!

jerseytjej said...

That is amazing. I would love to see that exibit...why oh why did I leave NJ???

venus said...

very cool-
There is real beauty in some of those photographs Seth.
Thanks for sharing.
--
Venus
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