It is a story of frugality, of treasuring what you have and of honouring your mother. In 1995, the tiny, shabby family home in old Beijing was cleared away to make way for the Olympics...perhaps it was a hutong? His mother, Zmao Xiangyua, was born in China in 1938 and died in January. For 60 years this was her home, shared with her husband and 2 children. It contained her life in possessions, in memories, and it had great value for her.
To ease his mother through the turmoil, he suggested creating an installation of the house frame and its entire contents. Thus, he argued, everything would be meaningfully recycled and preserved. This became an installation now at MOMA, entitled Waste not. Throughout his life, he and his artist wife watched aghast as much of old Beijing fell victim to the bulldozer. They tried to preserve what they could through their art.
..."Chinese art...much of the most interesting new work is less about attacking powers-that-be than about regretting the diminishment of powers that were, or might have been: familial cohesion, social stability and spiritual certainty..."