The ongoing thoughts of an art teacher in China - and home in Sydney

A continuing diary about my travels in China, and thoughts about China and Chinese art from home and abroad

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Magic Carpet Ride: Lin Tianmiao's Protruding Patterns at Galerie Lelong, New York

Lin Tianmiao, Protruding Patterns, 2014, wool thread, yarn, acrylic, dimensions variable, installation view at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, Image courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co, New York
Imagine my disappointment to be invited to the solo New York show of Lin Tianmiao - and to know that there is no way in the world that I can be there. However, I was lucky enough to be in New York when her major retrospective at Asia Society was showing, and I count myself VERY lucky indeed to have been able to interview Lin Tianmiao twice at her Beijing studio, and see for myself the spaces in which her extraordinary textile installations are produced.

It seems that this show continues her fascination, last seen in her embroidered 'Badges',  with language and how it delimits - and limits - women. The Galerie Lelong Press Release states:
"Over the past six years, Lin has collected around 2,000 words and expressions about women in various languages. Pulling from popular novels, newspapers, the internet, and colloquial dialogues, she has gathered phrases such as “divinité,” “Mori girl,” and “leftover women.” Some are predictably derogatory to women, demonstrating the continued ubiquity of sexist attitudes reinforced by language, while others are directly recovered from obsolescence, representing the nuanced mix of confusion, humor, self-deprecation, and empowerment that accompanies the shifting consciousness of women. This lexicon is woven into thickly raised wool forms so that viewers can feel the visceral and literal protruding patterns while touching and walking on the carpets."

As with the 'Badges' works which include familiar English terms including the entirely predictable tramp, whore and slut along with terms very specific to the Chinese context such as 'phoenix lady' and 'xiao san er' (a 'little third' is a mistress) these works too combine terms such as 'ghetto bird'  and 'Beauty Queen' with, as seen below, 'Zhongguo Da Ma'. Literally "Chinese Aunties" the term refers to middle-aged Chinese women who rushed to invest in gold in 2013 when gold prices plunged,
Lin Tianmiao, F + You No. 1, 2017, Black velvet, woolen yarn, silk thread, cotton thread, 100 x 100 cm, image courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co, New York
In my first interview with Lin Tianmiao, in the bitterly cold Beijing winter of 2012, she was extremely definite discussing her views on feminism and feminist art.
 “How do you feel about being called a feminist artist?” I am emboldened to ask. Lin thinks for a moment, then says, “I don’t think there is any feminism in China. Mao said that women hold up half the sky but we have not reached that level.” She denies making her own works in any kind of a conscious response to her reading of feminist theory. “In fact I think feminism is from the west,” she says."

Click HERE for a link to the interview, published on The Culture Trip

This fall, Lin will also be featured in Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Lin will present a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Museum of Glass, which will simultaneously feature her work in the group exhibition Annealing. In Spring 2018, Lin will also present a solo exhibition at the Bund Art Museum, Shanghai. Her work is in many prestigious institutions worldwide including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hong Kong Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Seattle Art Museum; Shanghai Museum of Glass; Sherman Foundation, Sydney; and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing. 
And to this list must also be added Sydney's own White Rabbit Gallery, where two works from her early 'Focus' series have just been showing in the recently concluded exhibition 'The Dark Matters'.

The New York show at Galerie Lelong New York September 9 through October 21. If you're in Manhattan, check it out.

Lin Tianmiao, Bound and Unbound, image courtesy the artist