Since her early childhood, Lin Tianmiao has been fascinated with cotton thread. Her mother would tediously unravel the thread of the white cotton gloves given to workers in state-owned factories to make new clothes and mend others. Lin appropriated this domestic task in the early 1990s, wrapping hundreds of household objects in white thread.
For Lin, binding represents a form of corporal punishment that women experience in their daily housework and in domestic labor. In the work Day-Dreamer, included in this exhibition, Lin suspends hundreds of cotton threads along the outline of her self-portrait. The haunting silhouette suggests the impact of this labor-intensive process on her body.
“I believe materials have properties, have genders; they can be distinguished between female and male, and often we can, through art, entirely change the identity of the material itself or change what the user adds to this material.”—Lin Tianmiao 1
Interview with Lin Tianmiao, August 15, 2019, conducted by Nancy P. Lin, translated by Greg Young.
White cotton threads, white fabric, and digital photograph
149 5/8 x 78 3/4 x 47 1/4 in. (380 x 200 x 120 cm)
Collection of the artist