It is not hard to understand why Lin Tianmiao is considered one of the leading female sculptors in China: she fashions memorable work that has to do with the female body and mind. Although Lin would be quick to downplay the significance of her role in contemporary art, she has built a career and a following by making work of unusual scope and importance. Having recently moved to a new studio and living quarters with her husband, the video artist Wang Gongxin, and her teenage son Maotou, she now enjoys a huge working space on the outer edges of Beijing. Part of this move was practical—Lin needs space
for the women who help make her labor-intensive projects. For instance, the ceiling-hung installation Gazing Back (Badges) (2009) required as many as 10 assistants to embroider its gathering of different appellations for the word “female” in Chinese. While Lin has always been sensitive to the status of women in China, she has never exploited her role in portraying women whose situations may be specifically Chinese but play out as universal. Perhaps the best way to approach her work is to experience it as something that moves beyond culturally specific borders.
Non Zero - Initiator, 2004. Fiberglass, silk, and mixed media, installation view.