Song Dong: I Don’t Know the Mandate of HeavenJan 21, 2017 - Jun 4, 2017

Liu Yingjiu, Xu Tiantian
Song Dong
Rockbund Art Museum
  • About the exhibition

    From January 21st to June 4th, Rockbund Art Museum will host a monographic exhibition by leading Chinese artist Song Dong. The exhibition, entitled “I Don’t Know the Mandate of Heaven”, will be the first major survey of Song’s work in mainland China in 8 years. The exhibition will include some of the artist’s best-known works that have been fundamental in establishing his career, as well as several rarely exhibited works. Amongst the works on display, some pieces have been specially commissioned for this exhibition by RAM such as At Fifty, I Don't Know the Mandate of Heaven and Back Image, manifesting the museum’s long-term commitment to support the creativity and production of contemporary art through exhibition projects. 


    RAM’s entire building will be transformed both inside and out for the exhibition, boldly conveying  an expression of both Song’s artistic creation to date, as well as taking a fresh look at his current state of creative exploration. The comprehensive exhibition constitutes a reflection on his life and career, which subsumes his past work into a coherent unity, infusing it with a regained sense of vitality, while imbuing his new creations with the richer context of his development. 


    The title of the exhibition is a fitting reference to Confucius’ famous aphorism in the Analects, ‘At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the mandate of heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of the truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.’ Song’s own take on the progress of the sage is playfully contradictory. ‘At 10 I was not worried. At 20, I was not restrained. At 30, I wasn’t established. At 40, I was perplexed.’ and, ‘at 50, I don’t know the mandate of heaven.’

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  • About the artist

    Beijing-based Song Dong (b.1966, Beijing, China) has emerged from a strong Chinese avant-garde performing arts community and developed into a significant contemporary art figure in the progression of Chinese conceptual art. Song graduated from the fine arts department of Capital Normal University in Beijing in 1989. His work ranges from performance and video to photography and sculpture, exploring notions of impermanence and the transience of human endeavor. Song Dong and his wife Yin Xiuzhen together created a new way of collaboration: THE WAY OF CHOPSTICKS in 2001. He is also the co-founder of an artist collective “Polit-Sheer-Form Office”, which was initiated by Hong Hao, Xiao Yu, Liu Jianhua, Song Dong, and Leng Lin in 2005. 

    The artist was honored on various occasions including in 2012 when he won “Power 100 of Chinese Contemporary Art:  Artist of the Year” and in 2012 “The First Kiev International Biennale Award”. And in 2011 San Francisco Certificate of Honour. And in 2006 The Grand Award of The Gwanju Biennale in Korea, And in 2010 when he gained the Artron Art China (AAC) Awards as the Artist of the Year (Video and Installation). He was also recognized in 2000 as the UNESCO / ASCHBERG Bursary Laureate. 

  • About the curators

    Liu Yingjiu is the deputy director of Rockbund Art Museum. As one of the  founding members of the museum, Liu has been responsible for organizing the opening series of exhibitions in 2010, including “Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant Da Vincis ” (2010) and “2010 Zeng Fanzhi”(2010). Before joining Rockbund Art Museum, he was curator at He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen, where he curated and organized a number of exhibitions and public programs, including “Immendorf “(2005), “Paula Modersohn-Becker” (2006) and “Fresh Eyes: Paintings from National Art Academy Graduates across China” (2006, 2007).

    Holding an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, Liu Yingjiu has extensive knowledge in contemporary art and museum theories, as well as rich experience in museum administration and project management. As deputy director at RAM he participates in the programming of exhibition and education projects, directs the daily operation of all professional platforms, conceives and leads the museum’s strategic development and innovations.


    Xu Tiantian graduted from Fine Arts College of Shanghai University and École supérieure des beaux-arts Tours Angers Le Mans. She joined Rockbund Art Museum in 2014 as cutatorial assistant. She has been involved in the production of several solo exhibitions of both Chinese and international artists including Chen Zhen, Heman Chong, Ugo Rondinone, Mark Bradford and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, as well as group exhibition such as “Tell Me A Story: Locality and Narrative”(2016).

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