My new Flash Fiction ‘Toothpaste Tubes’ was inspired by my visit to the exhibition by the Chinese artist Song Dong earlier this year at theBarbican Gallery. Song Dong is a conceptual artist and his piece – Waste Not – comprises of over 10,000 household possessions. The installation is a tribute to his mother Zhao Xiangyuan who collected all the items over a period of 50 years. Saving and re-using any and every kind of object is in keeping with the Chinese saying “wu jin qi yong” – ‘waste not’. From the start of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in 1966, saving was a way of life. Zhao Xiangyuan kept everything, even pieces of used soap and empty toothpaste tubes. The habit of thrift and saving everything in case needed continued even when China began to become more prosperous. Following the death of Song Dong’s father in 2002, his mother sank into a deep depression. In order to help her cope with her grief, he worked with his mother to make her amassed collection a work of art. From this came the ‘Waste Not’ exhibition – ‘it gave my mother a space to put her memories and history in order’.
There are perhaps lessons here to learn for us in our throw-away society as we enter an era of increasing austerity. But maybe not to this extreme.
There is more Flash Fiction on The Casket of Fictional Delights – The Thief, Charles Marmaduke, Museum Piece, A Twitcher’s Lament, Blue for Boy and Pink for Girl, Face2Face, Friday , The Blue Box, He Took his Zimmer frame for a Walk, Lipstick in his Handbag, The Last Straw and The Daily Commute & Sanctuary by Maeve Zahra, Unreliable by John Petheridge and Trust’s Lodger by Dawn Reeves. And for those of you who like to listen to their Flash Fiction there is a free Flash Fiction 2011 Compilation Storycast it is also available as a free download to your chosen eReader. All of this year’s Flash Fiction will be featured in the 2012 Flash Fiction Compilation at the end of year.