Song Dong Broken Mirror 1999

  • Not on view

In Broken Mirror a hammer hovers precariously, ready to break the camera’s lens; instead, it shatters what is revealed to be a mirror. Set in various locations throughout Beijing, the work charts a path through the changing cityscape. With each action, mirror fragments reflecting one scene give way to reveal another. Everyday street views of shoppers at an open-air market, historical landmarks, or sites of protest like Tiananmen Square open onto each other in a disorienting loop of illusion and reality. The camera is more than just a recording device here: it serves as another mirror, allowing the artist to simply yet powerfully capture the contradictions of contemporary Chinese life.

Broken Mirror continues Song’s long-standing preoccupation with the idea of impermanence. In an earlier performance-based work, for example, he recorded the passing of time on pavement—writing with water, which promptly evaporated; in another, he attempted to make an imprint on the sea using a wooden stamp. In its entwinement of traditional and contemporary Beijing, Broken Mirror is similarly both poetic and political. After each act of destruction, passersby pause briefly to investigate the sound of breaking glass before returning to their daily routines.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Video (color, sound)
Duration
3:54 min.
Credit
Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds
Object number
1110.2014
Copyright
© 2021 Song Dong
Department
Media and Performance
Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].