Lin Tianmiao: bound unbound, exh. cat., Asia society museum, New York (2012-2013), New York, Asia society museum
Seeing Shadow, Art and Public Gallery, Geneva, 2007→
Lin Tianmiao : est-ce permis ? Est-ce possible ?, Galerie Lelong, Paris, 14 November 2013 – 11 January 2014→
Systems, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 26 June – 26 August 2018
Chinese visual artist.
Lin Tianmiao received a BFA in 1984 from Capital Normal University in Beijing and, in 1989, studied at the Art Students League in New York City. From 1986 to 1995 she and her husband Wang Gongxin, a video artist, lived in the United States. The couple returned in 1995 to Beijing, where Lin began to gain recognition as a leading Chinese artist. Childhood memories of helping her mother sew and make clothes inspired Lin’s technique, which she calls thread winding, in her first major work The Proliferation of Thread Winding (1995), a mixed media installation in which a bed is filled with 20,000 needles linked by threads to 20,000 cotton balls, a television, and a video player. This work showcases the labour involved in making thread into cloth and gives a voice to the exploited women of China. She applied her intensive winding technique in Bound and Unbound (1997), using white cotton thread to bind 600 household objects. Original objects were concealed, dysfunctional and symbolized. In Focus (2001), she printed a digital C-type black and white image of herself on canvas using sewing, embroidery, and human hair. In Spawn (2001), an enlarged nude, she shaved her head and appeared as a confident, physically imposing woman.
In 2013, the New York Asia Society Museum presented Bound Unbound, Lin’s first solo museum exhibition in America. Her work More or Less the Same (2011) displayed synthetic human bones, farming implements and household tools wound with delicate silk threads, thus giving human bones the function of body tools. Bones are identical in hierarchy, culture, classes, politics and social status: they represent a universal element of humans, who each have an identical set and number of bones, as seen in All The Same (2011). Bones are a socio-political and cultural concept of commonality of both genders and all races.
Her 2017 solo exhibition Protruding Patterns transformed the New York Galerie Lelong into a landscape of antique carpets woven and embroidered with large letters and Chinese characters that reflected sexist attitudes. The exhibition featured degrading expressions about women in various languages.
Using thin threads, Lin interweaves Chinese social issues of gender awareness and self-examination, from a feminist perspective. Her work expresses gender equity, industrialization, and population displacement in China, related to the traditional female laborious tasks of sewing and weaving. Her installations are metaphors for an evolving political system that lauds the achievements of the working class while it conceals their plight in a rapidly developing China.
Lin Tianmiao, The Proliferation of Thread Winding, 1995, white cotton thread, rice paper, 20,000 needles, video player, television monitor, variable dimensions, © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, Bound and Unbound, 2013, white cotton thread, 548 household objects, video projection, sound, variable dimensions, © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, Blue Infrastructure, 2013, tree, threads, plastic figures and gold foils, 170 x 130 x 165 cm, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, The Same for N Times, 2011, embroidery, linen cloth, silk cloth, golden silk threads, silk threads, wood frame, polyurea and gold foil, 325 x 520 x 45 cm, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, Black White Grey – Black, 2013, black cashmere, silk threads, polyurea, steel wire mesh, wood frame, 215 x 145 x 63 cm, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, More or less the same (small) 2, 2012, polyurea, silk threads, and stainless steel stands, 80 x 50 cm, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, Sculpture, 2013, colored silk, polyurea, metal components, variable dimensions, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Lin Tianmiao
Lin Tianmiao, Statue – 5, 2013, coloured silk threads, polyurea and metal constructions, wood pedestal, edition of 3, 171 x 36 x 80 cm, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Lin Tianmiao