An installation of over sixty hanging hoops embroidered with American and Chinese slang words for women—such as Diva, Cougar, Dyke, Ho, Gold Digger, and Beauty Queen—accompanied by a soundtrack of the same terms, will be the centerpiece of artist Lin Tianmiao’s first solo exhibition, Badges, at Galerie Lelong. Lin’s installation evaluates the traditional use of badges and appropriates these uniform emblems as markers of changing female roles and the language used to characterize women in contemporary cultures. Recent works from Lin’s The Same series, compositions incorporating bones bound in colorful threads, will also be on view. The artist will be present for the public opening of Badges on Thursday, October 25th, from 6 to 8pm. The exhibition coincides with Lin’s first major solo exhibition in the U.S., Bound Unbound at the Asia Society Museum in New York, on view until January 27, 2013.
The first presentation of Badges at the OCT Contemporary Art Centre in Shanghai (2009) displayed Chinese characters and focused specifically on China’s rapidly modernizing society, while this newest presentation of the work incorporates contemporary American language into the installation as well. Ranging from the well-known to the obscure, Lin’s collection of names demonstrates that terms for women often stem from preconceived ideas about their sexuality and physical appearance. Lin reflects on these societal changes:
“Today, terminology for women has been and is being rapidly expanded, enriched and changed in a more and more diversified fashion; manifesting the transformation from passive to positive involvement of women in society…Of course, in the present male dominated society, the traditional cognition of women is still the mainstream.”
Badges’ meticulous craftsmanship and exaggerated size, mocks the use of these slang words as acceptable, standard language by men and women. As in Lin’s previous installations, Badges incorporates domestic materials and processes linked to the female experience, but this time the body is evoked through text instead of form, and the feminist critique is more overt.
The small gallery will display works from The Same series, which are akin to installations concurrently on view at the Asia Society Museum. These works explore the psychological effects of color and themes of reorganization and regeneration. Must Be the Same (2011) is a large pink composition made of meticulously “satin-stitched” fabrics which support minute human bones bound and caught in chaotic clusters of thread. Also included is a series of three, brand new smaller works, each wrapped in a different colored thread—Baby Blue, Duckling Yellow, and Minty Blue—and framed by similarly bound bones and tools using her “thread winding” technique. Lin’s signature use of thread, whether through winding, binding, stitching, or embroidering, not only represents the artist’s hand in the work, but also a domestic, labor-intensive act relatable to a global human experience.
Born in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province in 1961, Lin Tianmiao is one of the first female artists from China to achieve international recognition. During the 1980s, after studying Fine Arts at the Capital Normal University in Beijing, she moved to New York with her husband Wang Gongxin, a celebrated video artist. They returned to China in 1995, where they now reside. Early in her career, Lin worked as a successful textile designer, later translating her experience into her practice as a visual artist. Her work can be found in public collections such as the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Singapore Art Museum. She has participated in the Istanbul Biennale (1997), Shanghai Biennale (2002), Ireland Biennale (2002), and Gwangju Biennale (2002 & 2004). In 2011, she had a solo exhibition at the Beijing Center for the Arts in China. Lin’s Bound Unbound, on view at the Asia Society Museum in New York, surveys the last 20 years of her career and includes several new installations. An illustrated exhibition catalogue published by Asia Society and Charta features an interview with the artist and essays by Melissa Chiu and Guo Xiaoyan, and is available for sale at the museum and Galerie Lelong.