a community of wardrobes

Posted: April 1, 2016 in galleries
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wisdom of the Poor: Communal Courtyard,
an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong,
Art Gallery of Ontario

This installation is made from parts of 100 old wardrobes collected from traditional Beijing neighbourhoods, or hutongs, like the one in which Song Dong grew up in.  These neighbourhoods, and their communal way of life, are disappearing.

 

 

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
The pieces of the wardrobes are arranged with the backside towards the viewer.  The arrangement is such that you can not see the front side of most of the wardrobes.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
There are two circles of wardrobes that you can enter – where you can now stand in the courtyard so to speak.   The wardrobes become stand-ins for the fronts of houses that once faced onto courtyards in the old hutongs of Beijing.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections of a foot in one of the mirrors
A wardrobe was one of the items that the Chinese government provide to all families.  They are all similar yet different.  All have mirrors.  Most are made of the same colour wood and most have green curtains.  They all have little legs and they are all about the same height.
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
Wardrobes are personal articles and former owners have left their marks on many of them…. a different fabric in the window or a picture glued onto the wood.
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, door handles, key holes and a curtain that is a blue and white plaid and has musical notes on it.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, wardrobes arranged in a curved shape
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections

This installation also appeared in the Venice biennale in 2011 although the wardrobes were arranged differently.  For the exhibit at the AGO, there are a number of items that appear within the ‘courtyards’ created by the wardrobes.  For the viewer, these items can only be viewed through the windows of the wardrobes.  One of the items, below, is a series of three paintings of the Canadian ballerina Karen Kain.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections. through one of the windows there is a painting of Karen Kain on the wall

In another, bikes

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, through two of the windows there is a bike

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, door knobs and frosted glass and a white curtain

This installation remains at the AGO until 17 July 2016

Comments
  1. icelandpenny says:

    Very evocative shots of the installation, really demonstrates its mystery.

    • Mary C says:

      Thank you! It was a fascinating installation to explore and play in! The man who works for the AGO and who admonished me for touching a curtain (does his role have a name?) was very well informed about the artist and the work and we had an interesting chat.

      • icelandpenny says:

        Probably one of the security guards — who are exceptionally well informed about the art, and often have degrees in the field and/or are artists themselves.

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