The contemporary sculptor and installation artist Song Dong has documented his experiences in China’s social and economic upheavals. Song was trained as a painter, but abandoned the medium in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square Uprising, turning instead to newer forms of artistic production, including video and performance. Much of his work has focused on the ephemeral nature of material and action. His 1996 performance Breathing featured the artist laying face down on a sidewalk in mid-winter and simply breathing until a layer of ice formed on the pavement. In the performance’s second half, Song performed the same action on a frozen lake, without the same discernible effect. A major touring installation called Eating the City (2003-6) presented viewers with two cities made of cookies: a traditional image of Beijing and a modernized version. Eating the City comments on the rapid development in China’s urban centers, where centuries-old buildings are being replaced by office towers and factories.
Song's work has been the subject of solo shows at international institutions including the Barbican Art Gallery, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art. He was included in the 2011 Venice Biennale exhibition and Documenta 13 in 2012.