Concerning Bodily Structures
Focus Series, Lin Tianmiao
The use of cotton thread, which weaves and crawls over the face of the elderly figure, appears to mirror the inward nervous systems and veins of the body whilst resembling cables and wires of the external, mechanical world and all its chaos.
The figure, whose softness is apparent in both the muted colour palette and their pained expression, is overtaken by the winding threads which take on a life of their own as they engulf the face. The threads, therefore, appear to be part of the body, like scars and wrinkled skin, suggesting a complicated yet sympathetic portrayal of a human life in which the relationships, feelings, personality, and experiences begin to overtake the physical being.
By using materials typically associated with women and the domestic realm, like cotton thread, Tianmiao challenges our understanding of gender, dominance, and sensitivity by elevating her subjects to an ethereal, detached entity, acting as a defining the roles of both her subject and the medium.
Tianmiao's depiction of the body crosses boundaries between the real and the intangible by celebrating the woven journey undergone, in the form of thread, by her subject. However, the fragility of the piece suggests that it acts as a form of memorial or celebration of life, rather than the vein or wire-like threads bringing a sense of energy or vitality to the piece.
Focus Series, Lin Tianmiao 2002
Works on paper. Cotton thread on printed cotton paper mounted on aluminium.
Art courtesy: DSL Collection