09 Song Dong, Doing Nothing Doing-Chinese Cabbage, 2014

 “Surplus value” is value that people recognize beyond existing value. It is overlooked value. It is not about exploitation, but about discovery and creation. It is the “usefulness of uselessness”.

Artist Statement by Song Dong

On December 19, 2015, “Beijing Voice: Song Dong Surplus Value” was unveiled at Pace Beijing. As the sixth installment of Pace Beijing’s annual project “Beijing Voice”, this exhibition features Song Dong’s latest series, Surplus Value, a conceptual exploration of everyday “discarded things”. Song Dong’s new work can be seen as a continuation of the Waste Not and Wisdom of the Poor series. He further reconsiders the aesthetic value of everyday objects in his Surplus Value, for him, “life is art, and art is life”. Song Dong’s explorations approach the quotidian at a minimal distance as they uncover the most valuable and meaningful layers to everyday life and create a channel for interchange between art and life.

This channel may appear to be constructed within the external transformation of spatial settings and forms, but it actually comprises a transformation of internal recognition. Song Dong describes this transformation by coining the paradoxical term “Abstract Realism.” Here, “abstract” can be seen as a verb, as the artist immerses himself in every specific detail of real life, and then abstracts and refines them into more essential insights.

The title of this new series, Surplus Value, comes from Marxist political economics, but unlike this cold, absolute theory, an emotional thread has always run through Song Dong’s own values coordinates as he uses artistic means to handle his relationships with objects, with family and with life. In Waste Not, the first installment of this trilogy, Song Dong used art to help his mother, the two of them completing this continued artwork together. In this way, art was officially “drawn into” his family, becoming a ubiquitous presence in their lives. This implies that the relationship between art and life is no longer limited to the creative stage, that it has become a part of the everyday.

Song Dong’s “trilogy” presents a form of wisdom from the streets. This living intelligence is the source of the “lightness” that shines in his works. This lightness softens the “intentional” elements of realist artworks, lifting the burden of art with his signature attitude of “If you don’t do it, it’s a waste of nothing. If you do do it, it’s a wasted effort, but a wasted effort is still doing.” Only in this way can one truly approach the ideal state of art as life and life as art.

The exhibition will remain on view till 27 February, 2015.

Text and Photo by Zhang Wenzi, edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

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