• Song Dong, I Don’t Know the Mandate of Heaven (detail), 2016, porcelain doll, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    “Song Dong: I Don’t Know the Mandate of Heaven”

    Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) | 上海外滩美术馆
    20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District | 上海市黄浦区虎丘路20号
    January 20–May 21, 2017

    Curated by Liu Yingjiu and Xu Tiantian

    In the Analects, Confucius says that fifty is a watershed year in one’s life, a time when one becomes conscious of the “mandate of heaven,” or one’s position in the universe. This has apparently not been the case for the fifty-year-old Beijing-based artist Song Dong, who has titled his midcareer survey “I Don’t Know the Mandate of Heaven.” The exhibition presents major works made since the 1990s, including paintings, photographs, installations, ceramic sculptures, and videos, offering a chance to examine Song’s eclectic yet consistent approach to art and life. His use of quotidian items such as old furniture and domestic appliances appears by turns indifferent and sentimental, but his works’ real poetic power derives from their engagement with a core idea in Taoist philosophy—the dialectic between the individual and the world.