February 19, 2021

Prods and Porous Boundaries: Candice Lin's (Im)material Practice

Spring '21 Teiger Mentor Candice Lin's practice begins with material fascinations, from plants and molds to masks and stains, and takes shape as she questions notions of citizenship, post/de-colonialism, anthropology, and feminist and queer theory.

by Patti Witten

Candice Lin's 2019 solo show, Meaningless Squiggles (François Ghebaly, Los Angeles) encompasses work "restlessly and persistently investigating material pasts, tracing objects and their histories to open up discourses around race, value, and the economies of dehumanization." Pictured above: (left) detail from A Rose Window (2019), aquarium with kombucha of fermented bacteria and yeast, rose, hibiscus, poppy, tea, and sugar, 24" x 48" x 8" inches (61 x 122 x 20.5 cm); (right) installation view of Meaningless Squiggles exhibition. photos / Ian Byers-Gamber, courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles.

Working primarily in sculpture and video, trans-disciplinary artist Candice Lin makes work she says "prods the porous nature of boundaries through the use of transitive materials." Observing jars of food transformed by mold, or insects and plants overtaking objects, she finds connections that intertwine materials and forms with histories and theories of colonialism, slavery, and migration. In this way, Meaningless Squiggles, Lin's fifth solo exhibition at Françoise Ghebaly where she is represented addressed what may otherwise seem to be disparate topics, drawing on her research into subjects ranging from Chinese "coolie" labor in the Caribbean, James Baldwin's travels outside the U.S., plants that heal and hurt, John Searle's writings on AI, and the formal similarity of torture devices used on enslaved people to Medieval European disciplinary masks.

The 2019  Meaningless Squiggles exhibition — much like Lin's practice — saw, "many histories intertwine in a kaleidoscopic process of unearthing, remembering, and memorializing." Above: La Charada China (Tobacco Version) (2019), cement with casein paint, welded steel table frame, tobacco, ceramics, distillation system (distilling a tincture of tobacco, sugar, tea, poppy, and piss), poppy pod putty, sugarcane, white sugar, cacao, sage, ackee, oak gall, Anadenanthera, dong quai, California clay, Dominican Republic clay, metal parts, bucket, pumps, tubing, dried indigo, glass slides, bottles, drawings, tile, rubber, and wood, dimensions variable. photos / Kell Yang-Sammataro, courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles. 


"Lin's installations are mobilized by a research-based process of decolonizing materials and queering space, and-or vice-versa. Her projects re-situate categories of difference, pulling at entanglements of race, gender, and sexuality to dislodge that centralizing position occupied by the human species." Alexandro Segade, art


Lin is an assistant professor of art at UCLA, and lives and works in Los Angeles. "Her interdisciplinary constructions dismantle supremacies," says assistant professor of art Alexandro Segade, who invited Lin to speak to his graduate seminar, Reimagining Humanity, last fall. "When she and the cohort connected, it was clear to me that the conversation should be continued," he says.

Above: installation view of System for a Stain (2016), commissioned by Gasworks. photo / Jessica Wittman

The development of student art practices in AAP's M.F.A. and B.F.A. programs is supported each semester by the Teiger Mentor in the Arts, an established artist-mentor who brings experience and perspective from their practice and profession to the department. Art students have the opportunity to discuss their work and receive critical insight from Lin, who will meet with individual students remotely this spring, and she will discuss her recent work and process in an artist talk titled A Materialist History of Contagion on February 22.  

The Teiger Mentor in the Arts Program was created in 2013 with a gift from David Teiger '51, a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration. Teiger, who died in December 2014, was a contemporary art collector and patron of curatorial projects and exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. Lin is the 16th Teiger Mentor; previous mentors were Jessi Reaves, Josh Tonsfeldt, Wendy White, Chitra Ganesh, Paul Pfeiffer, Sam Lewitt, Dana Hoey, Sean Landers, Craig Kalpakjian, Sam Durant, Sharon Hayes, Leslie Hewitt, Alejandro Cesarco, Shannon Ebner, and Josiah McElheny.

AAP Communications
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