Ghosts in the Mirror - Song Ling


Ghosts in the Mirror—Song Ling 1985-2013

Artist: Song Ling

Curator: Xia Jifeng

Host: Today Art Museum

Support: Hive Center for Contemporary Art

Opening: July 26, 2014, 4:00pm

Duration: July 26-August 11, 2014

Location: 2F, Building No.1, Today Art Museum

Ghosts in the Mirror-Song Ling 1985-2013 is the first retrospective in China of Song Ling, one of the most important artists of the ’85 New Wave art movement. The exhibition systematically and comprehensively presents the works of this artist in an attempt to recreate the “history” of Song Ling and his art. The exhibition comprises roughly 200 artworks and large amounts of documentary materials spanning every period in the artist’s three decades’ career. Ghosts in the Mirror-Song Ling 1985-2013 provides a unique view into this individual artist while also sifting through the threads of the early development of Chinese contemporary art, presenting the interior conceptual side of this historic art movement and of the artist as an individual.

Song Ling was born in Hangzhou in 1961, and entered into the Chinese Painting Department of the Zhejiang Academy of Art in 1981. Upon graduation, he did not continue with the traditional creative thinking of Chinese painting but instead grew interested in Western Surrealism and Pop Art. His series People-Pipelines was featured in85 New Space, one of the most important exhibitions of the85 New Wave art movement. These works used Surrealist techniques to prophecy the human contradictions of the era of industrialization. In 1986, he joined Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi and others to found the Pond Association. Song Ling participated in every collective art creation of that artist group, which elicited a powerful societal response at the time. At the same time, Song Ling also reached a high point in his individual creations. Between 1986 and 1987, he created a series of ink paintings entitled Meaningless Choice? In this series, Song Ling absorbed and incorporated the expressive forms and linguistic traits of photography to create numerous reproductions of the same image (mostly livestock). This approach calls to mind Walter Benjamin’s critique on the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. The artist’s depictions of these animals can also be seen as depictions of people: in the era of industrial technology and mechanical cultivation, man and livestock share the same fate.

After 1987, as the tumultuous ’85 New Wave art movement was approaching its close, Song Ling left China to study and live in Australia. Once in Australia, he continued with his already-formed unique individual style. Aside from ink painting, he also experimented with mixed-media collage, acrylic and other mediums.

The title of this exhibition, Ghosts in the Mirror, is taken from Alain Robbe-Grillet’s autobiography, the contents of which wander between autobiography and essay. The original French title of the book, Le miroir qui revient, references a “return” or “reemergence” in the mirror. This book’s ambiguous tones, recollections, and reflections on the creative act allow the always hazy image of Robbe-Grillet to “reemerge.” The narrative style of the work is noted for its polyphonic construction. The “reemerging” subject, the “reemerging” object, and the “reemerging” relationship to time come together to embody the narrator’s unusual artistic ability. As a mirror with the ability to summon images of memory and the past, the work transcends the limitations of conventional autobiography by acknowledging the damage inflicted upon memory by the passage of time, approaching the problem of validating the ‘objectivity’ and ‘honesty’ of the narrator from a new angle.

With regard to Song Ling, all of his works can similarly be said to be mirrors which summon both the image of incoherent narrator and the object of narration. These “Ghosts in the Mirror” allow us to see the objectivity and detachment of history and time, and at the same time see the honesty and fertile imagination that inform the spirit of the artist.


Song Ling

1961       Born in Hangzhou, China

1984       Graduated from Department of Chinese Painting of Zhejiang Academy of Fine ArtsNow as China National Academy of Fine Arts.

Lives and works in Melbourne and Hangzhou.


Xia Jifeng
Born in 1969 in Zhejiang province. As writer and poet, he has published numerous works, including collection of short stories
Young Criminals, collection of poems Learning to Write, The Sentimental Rhetoric, etc. Since 2006 he started to wrtie art criticism on Chinese Contemporary Art. He observes the evolution of contemporary art through literary trends that he has experienced and understood. He has also been involved in and committed to the development of Chinese Contemporary Art. With his strong ability and rich experience, Xia Jifeng curated a dozens of exhibitions in China and abroad. Lately he has been focusing on the retrospection and contemplation on Chinese Contemporary Art, especially the trends and attempations appeared after 2000. By curating exhibitions, writing and publishing art critiques, Xia Jifeng seeks to build a discourse system of which the main body consists of domestic curators, artists and art critics, a system that is unique and different from the western one.


He is now the director of Hive Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. 



Ghosts in the Mirror - Song Ling

DATE: Jul 26 - Aug 11, 2014

ADDRESS: 2nd floor exhibition hall, Building No.1, Today Art Museum, No.32 Baiziwan Rd , Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

CURATOR: Xia Jifeng

ARTIST: Song Ling