Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Stamping the Water (Performance in the Lhasa River, Tibet, 1996)

Song Dong (Chinese, born Beijing, 1966)
Chromogenic prints
Images: 61 x 40 cm (24 x 15 3/4 in.), each
Credit Line:
Promised Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Song Dong
Not on view
Song began his career as an oil painter, but in the years after 1989 he increasingly shifted his focus to installation and performance art.
These iconic photographs capture Song’s most famous performance, in which he sat in the Lhasa River in Tibet for an hour repeatedly stamping the water with a large wood seal carved with the Chinese character for water (shui 水). The piece is, among other things, a meditation on the evanescence of inscribed language. As Song has said, “I exerted great force [in stamping the seal on the water], but in the end left no trace.”
Inscription: Most prints inscribed with number on verso in blue ink.
Song Dong; [AW Asia, New York]; Cynthia Polsky, New York

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World," October 6, 2017–January 17, 2018.

Hearn, Maxwell K., and Wu Hung. Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013. pp. 64-65, fig. fog. 45.

Karlsson Kim, and Alexandra von Przychowski. Magie der Zeichen: 3000 Jahre chinesische Schriftkunst. Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 2015. no. 26, pp. 58–61.

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