wu jin qi yong - 'Waste Not' is a work recently shown at The Barbican Curve Gallery. Song Dong, the Chinese artist offers up a poignant meditation on family life and the artists childhood during the Cultural Revolution.
Song Dongs mother, Zhao Xiangyuan, collected obsessively for over five decades.
This work talks of the coming together of the family and its unique bonds as they all repeatedly reconstruct the exhibition every time it is shown. Memories are rekindled and reflections are bought to the fore as they recognise an object. There is another side to this story, a darker side - the collecting became so manic that it caused arguments and rifts within the family about where it was stored etc.
I found this exhibition very moving and emotional. I could relate to this as I saw this within my family recently when the house was packed up and sold. Trauma of war and 'the lack of' tend to make humans respond with basic animal needs to hold onto objects for one reason or another. It is often suggested that collecting is a comfort to people, however if you thought that one day there may not be anything manufactured it could be out of pure necessity - hard to imagine in our world of over consumption.
'A life told in stuff.Most of it unlovely, and yet strangely affecting' The Inependent