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Song Dong's Waste Not Installation at the Museum of Modern Art

Waste Not: Artist Tackles Mother's Compulsive Hoarding

I'm very excited that I'm going to be in New York soon to see Beijing-based artist Song Dong's installation Waste Not at the Museum of Modern Art. With his mother's collaboration, the artist gathered 50 years worth of objects (some useful, some puzzling) that she collected in the spirit of the Cultural Revolution's version of "waste not, want not." The installation includes a portion of the family's Beijing home that was reassembled and installed in the MoMA's atrium, along with chipped plates, bottles without caps, and other items which "form a miniature cityscape that viewers can navigate around and through."

What started as the understandable practice of saving things in austere times morphed into hoarding: saving became a way for Dong's mother to deny loss by preserving objects (her husband's death made her hoarding more compulsive) and safeguarding against future losses. In collaborating with his mother, says MoMA's associate curator Sarah Suzuki, the artist not only created a wonderful piece of art, he also granted his mother her wish that all these objects would be of use to people someday. Song Dong's exhibit Projects 90 will remain at the MoMA through Sept. 7.

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