Reflections on “A Flourishing Void”

As one of the most sought-after artists in China, Song Dong truly outdid himself in NYU Shanghai’s gallery space.

If you have stepped into NYU Shanghai’s art gallery recently, you might have noticed quite a unique scene—floors, ceiling, and walls are covered with mirrors and reflective surfaces. With all the reflections, the room seems to have doubled in size, and antique lamps add to the atmosphere. This is Song Dong’s “A Flourishing Void,” NYU Shanghai’s first major exhibition this year. Opening on March 11 with great interest from the student body, the exhibit will be in place until April 23.

Curator Qian Lin, who invited Song Dong to the school, realized right away that Song Dong was struck by inspiration. “I wasn’t sure we would get him to do this, but when he came, he was so intrigued by the university. He says it’s like it dropped down from the sky, planted right in the middle of the financial district,” said Qian.  The unique atmosphere of NYU Shanghai—a liberal arts, American university in one of China’s most economically important cities—inspired Song Dong to return to his Beijing studio and develop “A Flourishing Void.”

However, the exhibition encountered some problems. Fire codes and requests from NYU Shanghai’s Facilities department had to be juggled with the meaning Song Dong tried to convey. Working non-stop over Chinese New Year, he tailored his piece specifically to NYU Shanghai’s gallery space, making it a personalized exhibit that cannot be relocated anywhere else. Song Dong even incorporated one of the gallery space’s most unique features—two large walls made up of windows. “It is an unusual feature of an art space, and he wanted to take full advantage of that,” said Qian. Viewed from outside the windows, you can see panels of colored glass. When viewed from the inside, the construction is completely different.

As one of the most sought-after artists in China, Song Dong truly outdid himself in NYU Shanghai’s gallery space. Students flooded Instagram and Facebook feeds with their own perspectives on his art space, making themselves at home in his “Flourishing Void.” “As you know, art is very personal. I’m just so glad that my choice found a really amazing echo in the community from faculty and students,” said Qian. Song Dong’s art promotes imagination and reflection, and is sure to become a favorite location in the Academic Building this spring.

To share your feedback on Song Dong’s work and contribute to future art exhibits at NYU Shanghai, fill out this Google Form.

This article was written by Savannah Bilman. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: NYU Shanghai

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