Tianmiao Lin‘s artwork combines household objects and human figures with a technique called “thread winding”: wrapping thread — or hair or silk — around an object until it is completely covered. The result is oddly tactile and organic, looking like something spun by a spider caught in a fevered dream. The use of string, Lin reveals in an interview with The Culture Trip, is partly for that very reason. They are organic and natural, and contain an element of mysterious strength. “The materials take on a life of their own,” Lin says.
When Chinese artists are discussed, it’s hard to ignore politics; Lin is no exception. As an artist — particularly a female artist — from a country that went through a rather recent revolution, her creations are rife with subtext whether intended or not. It’s difficult if not impossible to draw on the themes and symbols of family and femininity without also summoning the specter of their cultural context.
In a collection called “Mothers!!!,” pearls and webs of string become tangled cancerous masses on the backs of women, weighing them down. The pearls are beautiful but also destructive. In another installation called “Chatting,” several figures stand in a circle, heads bowed, seeking connection perhaps but resigned to the impossibility of it.
To be fair, Lin has rejected feminist and political readings of her work. As an artist, she most likely wants to defy labels and have her work speak for itself. Still, it’s hard not to feel a little glimmer of dissent and rebellion in her art — arising organically, woven into the very DNA of it, strand by strand.