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Examining Function & Form: Lin Tianmiao's ‘Systems’ at Rockbund Art Museum

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Examining Function & Form: Lin Tianmiao's ‘Systems’ at Rockbund Art Museum
Lin Tianmiao, My Garden, 2018, Aluminum frame, glass, liquid circulation system & carpet. Image courtesy of Rockbund Art Museum

 

The first institutional solo exhibition in Shanghai by Lin Tianmiao opens at the Rockbund Art Museum from 26 June – 26 August 2018. Entitled Systems, curators involved are Senior Curator at Samsung, Asian Art and Senior Advisor at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Alexandra Munroe, as well as Assistant Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell.

 

Image courtesy of The Artling

Systems is derived from the means in which Lin Tianmiao conceives environments that examine the “intersecting and reciprocal” relationships between the viewer’s mind, body, and world beyond. By assembling scenes where viewers confront their own being through observations and participations, she exposes how humans draw from external aspects to create and negotiate allusions pertaining to the self and the world they reside in. It is because of this interconnectivity with the self and the outside world that encapsulates her art as systems in their own right; they exist as a set of associated features, bits and parts, thereby forming a complex whole.

Image courtesy of The Artling

Understanding this core basis of interconnectivity allows us to further recognize Lin’s laborious works and how they function in their individual forms, such as video installations, mechanically moving structures that pump bright liquids through glass tubes and cocoon-like pods, and even bio-feedback sensors. However, as distinctive as they are, they come together through Lin’s conceptual efforts to examine, expose, and reimagine the characteristics of human awareness and identity. Such notions include that of gender and themes that challenges the cognitive, social, and ideological models. Her systems of functions further delve from the physical to the allegorical.

Image courtesy of The Artling

This exhibition was envisaged by Lin as a system too, as she invited viewers to address the entire show as a site-specific installation, a journey of sorts. The Rockbund Art Museum presents Lin’s works in curatorial tune with their gallery floors, with works that offer a single stage or aspect of a wholly psychological and sensorial experience. Working their way up to the second floor, viewers are confronted with tapping into their individual, collective, and public consciousness. We note how Lin draws from modern and ancient writings on science, technology, philosophy, neuroscience and psychology by witnessing her dense sketchbooks, presented as research as part of the exhibit.

Image courtesy of The Artling

 

Born in 1961 in Taiyuan, Lin Tianmiao studied fine arts at Capital Normal University Beijing where she emerged as a textile designer in the 1980s. Since then she has lived and worked between New York and Beijing, and with her husband Wang Gongxin, achieved international acclaim for their earlier practices in video installation. Employing both fabric sculptures and video works in the 1990s and 2000s, Lin centered her themes on the female body, exposing them as paradoxically voluptuous and neutered. Systems features two works from this period, Day Dreamer (1999) and High!!! (1999). The aim - to dissolve and disengage with the familiarities of the female body, deconstruct our objectification of it, and therefore any ideas that distort constructs of equality.

More recently, Lin collaborated with the Shanghai Museum of Glass to create mechanical sculptures of glass beakers in massive quantities, reminiscent of laboratory instruments. She sets up what she calls “psychological pressure” between human life, mature, and machines in this elaborate work. She invites interaction and even participation so as to compel confrontations between external systems of the artworks to internal systems of the physical body and consciousness.

 

Lin Tianmiao's Systems is on show from 26 June to 26 August 2018 at the Rockbund Art Museum
20 Huqiu Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000

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