Lin Tianmiao

Lin Tianmiao
b. 1961, Taiyuan, Shanxi
Installation artist
Graduating from the Fine Art Department of Capital Normal University in 1984, Lin spent nearly ten years in New York before establishing herself in Beijing in 1994. The following year, in a solo show at her home, she presented The Proliferation of Thread Winding (Chan de kuosan), in which she used, for the first time, cotton thread. It involved a bed pierced through the middle by myriads of needles, each holding the loose end of a ball of thread. These balls, in turn, spread in the thousands on the floor like a bride’s gown, while a monitor, placed at the pillow’s height, recorded the perpetual winding of thread, a labour recalling certain moments Lin spent with her mother as a child. Taking these childhood memories as the point of departure, Lin created a striking contrast between the white, soft and spreading quality of the thread and the black, sharp and piercing quality of the needle, and made a strong statement with respect to a woman’s role. She has continued her research with thread. In the monotonous and enslaving process of winding (thread), hundreds of objects—from kitchenware and utensils to trees and bicycles—are transformed into something deprived of their original function.
When presented as installations, their dialectic quality is reinforced by the theatricality of display. Her work has been shown in exhibitions worldwide, including the 5th Istanbul Biennial, ‘Another Long March’ (Breda), ‘Crack in the Continent’ (Tokyo, 1997) and ‘Inside/Out’ (New York, 1998). Lin’s recent works include the surgical treatment of portrait photographs with thread, balls, knots and plaits of thread.
Dal Lago, Francesca (1998). ‘Against the Tide’ ART AsiaPacific 17 (January): 100.
Gao, Minglu (ed.) (1998). Inside Out New Chinese Art. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Pollack, Barbara (2004). ‘Chinese Photography: Beyond Stereotypes’. Artnews 103.2 (February): 98–103.
Smith, Karen (2001). ‘Lin Tianmiao’. In Wu Hong (ed.), Chinese Art at the Crossroads. Hong Kong: New Art Media Limited, 310–13.
Werner, Chris, Qiu, Ping and Pitzen, Marianne (eds) (1998). Die Hälfte des Himmels—Chinesische Künstlerinnen, Bonn: Verlag Frauen Museum, 76–9.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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