Lin Tianmiao, Day-Dreamer, 2000

Lin Tianmiao, Day-Dreamer, 2000, courtesy of the artist, © Lin Tianmiao

The Allure of Matter: Spotlight on Lin Tianmiao

July 4, 2019
Susanna Ferrell, Curatorial Assistant, Chinese and Korean Art Department

The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China brings together works by Chinese contemporary artists from the past four decades in which conscious material choice has become a symbol of the artists’ expression. Their media range from the commonplace to the unconventional, the natural to the synthetic, the elemental to the composite: from plastic, water, and wood, to hair, tobacco, and Coca-Cola. Throughout the run of the exhibition, we will be highlighting individual artists and artworks from the show.

Lin Tianmiao has been working with her signature material, white cotton thread, since she was just four years old. Her mother was a factory worker, and was periodically given new pairs of white cotton gloves to wear at the factory. At those times, she would bring home her old gloves and unravel their threads so they could be used in sewing and mending projects around the house. Lin would wind these threads into skeins as a household chore; though she disliked the process at the time, she later incorporated thread-wrapping into her artistic practice. Day-Dreamer brings together this personal material with Lin’s own form, imaged on a mattress raised high overhead. The photograph of her body has been digitally altered to remove all signs of her gender, and pierced hundreds of times with white cotton threads. The threads are anchored tautly to a second mattress, positioned on the ground below. The colorless, hairless, almost ghostly visage of the artist, combined with the white cotton threads coming towards us from her body, show a clear distancing between Lin’s material and their original household identity: Lin’s threads have left the domestic sphere to become, instead, a work of art.

The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China is on view in BCAM through January 5, 2020.