The 59th Minute

In Broken Mirror, Chinese conceptual artist Song Dong destroys one reflective scene to reveal another, shattering the viewer's conception of reality and juxtaposing China's modern cityscape with its traditional landscape. Using a succession of images, the artist exposes a rapidly modernizing China and explores notions of transience and illusion in contemporary society. This fall, from September 26 through November 30, 2006, Creative Time and Panasonic present one-minute video segments from Broken Mirror on The 59th Minute: Video Art on the NBC Astrovision by Panasonic. Situated in the continually evolving Times Square, the artwork encourages onlookers to search for parallels in their own culture.

Watching Broken Mirror, the viewer is at first duped into thinking he is seeing nothing more than a foreign street scene and, like the passersby in the film, he too expects only to give the piece a momentary thought. Yet seconds before he turns away, a hammer appears and fragments the seeming reality, revealing what actually stands before Song Dong, and beyond what the viewer sees in the mirror. The opposing images are visually pitted against one another, demonstrating the proximity of the antiquated and the modern in our rapidly evolving cities and the vulnerability that lies beneath the facade. Song Dong's act of destruction brilliantly exposes the struggle of Beijing culture to maintain its traditions despite inevitable urbanization.

October 17, 2005 12 - 1 p.m.
Times Square (Broadway and 44th Street)

See photos from the performance.

In collaboration with Times Square Alliance, Creative Time presents a special performance by Song Dong. For one hour, amid the crowds of tourists and workers weaving in and out of Times Square, Song Dong will continuously record the time using water and brush to paint directly onto the concrete surface that surrounds him. Within this hurried setting, Song Dongs modest gesture compels us to focus on the present by exposing our unthinking consumption of time. Writing Time with Water is a compelling example of Song Dongs interest in context and ritual. The performance stems from the artists ongoing series, Writing Diary with Water. For the past decade, Song Dong has employed a calligraphy brush dipped in water, rather than ink, to document his daily reminiscences on stone. The hand-drawn text lasts for just a fleeting moment before it evaporates with the steam that arises from the hot stones surface. This practice allows Song Dong to keep his thoughts and musings secret, while at the same time, provides the mental release inherent in traditional diary keeping.


Song Dong was born in Beijing in 1966. Due to the insolvent conditions that lead him to create conceptually based art, he and others of his generation fall into a practice identified by art critic Gao Minglu as 'apartment art'. Recent exhibitions include Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China (2004-2006) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Oalors, a chine: Chinese Contemporary Art (2003) at the Center Pompidou in Paris. His work was presented at the 2004 Sao Paolo Biennale in Brazil and at the 2003 Istanbul Biennale.

Song Dongs video work, Burning Photograph is featured in Creative Times group exhibition, The Plain of Heaven. Exploring the subject of creation through destruction, the video runs in reverse and slow motion, allowing the flames of the burning tourist photograph to constitute the image rather than destroy it. The work also references the traditional tourist photo by illustrating the ways in which we reinvent our experiences of place through nostalgia.

  Broken Mirror
  September 26 - November 30, 2005

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