(Original language: Cantonese)
LIN YILIN: When I create art, I always want to do something that no one else has done before or something that's challenging to me. The concept I envisioned [for my early works] wasn't about any city but about Guangzhou specifically.
I have spent so many years there. I've seen the city constantly changing and evolving since I was young. This kind of transformation has gone hand in hand with China's development.
That energy… you just naturally harness that energy [to create art].
One time around Chinese New Year, [I] visited my secondary school teacher with a group of secondary school friends. It was somewhere near Daxin Road. There are some arcade buildings there and the arcades were pretty run-down. Since it was around Chinese New Year, there weren't a lot of people. The migrants had all gone home.
That morning, when I saw the arcades, they felt a bit alien, but at the same time they evoked my nostalgia for my childhood or maybe it was a kind of homesickness. So I thought, ‘what can I do with these arcades?’
Later on, I was at the Havana Biennial in Cuba and I saw people walking on stilts. I thought that I could maybe include them in my work.
I actually don't really live within a Western context. Although I've spent a relatively long time in the West, my mindset doesn’t align with its culture. I live there, but I exist outside of Western society, so there's a sense of displacement.
It's a challenge that artists are faced with in a globalised world. We'll slowly get used to this globalised way of creating, which will likely belong to the artists themselves. The value for the audience will be best understood through experiencing a series of works by an artist instead of just a single work.
I like doing things that I’m not sure I can pull off whether it's because of my body or my ability. I'll always do everything possible to realise my ideas and I'll slowly figure out the right way forward over the course of that process.
This is my particular style of realising [my ideas].
There's a high chance people will find this method clumsy. But it is very likely one of my personal ways to create art.
Artist Lin Yilin was born in Guangzhou, where he co-founded the influential artist collective Big-Tail Elephant Group in 1990. Although he now lives and works in New York, Guangzhou is very much a part of him. In his 2019 work Typhoon, Lin, dressed in white pyjamas, walks slowly on metal stilts down a Guangzhou street in the middle of the night. He walks through the arcades in front of the street-level shops attached to Guangzhou’s distinctive colonial-era buildings. Having grown up among this nineteenth-century architecture, Lin laments its demolition in the latest round of urban renewal. Evoking a surreal feeling of walking above the ground, the work reflects the helplessness of the individual against the tide of urban development.
The work was commissioned for the Sigg Prize 2019 Exhibition, where it was exhibited alongside two other works by Lin, The Second 1/3 Monad and The Back. Lin’s conceptual practice brings together sculpture, installation, photography, performances, and video, commingling social architecture with everyday life.
This video was originally published on M+ Stories.
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