CAMBRIDGE, MA — Conceived throughout months of shut companionship together with her cat, Roger, Candice Lin’s Seeping, Rotting, Resting, Weeping on the Carpenter Middle for the Visible Arts enacts a means of other-world-building whereby multi-species relations — earthbound and chthonic, human and nonhuman — are important to our ongoing survival. Set in a realm the place people are now not sovereign, Lin foregrounds the lives and deaths of felines, critters, microbes, and demons in a apply of creating kin.
Close to the gallery entrance, an animated video greets guests, transporting them to the particles of a post-apocalyptic desert panorama. An open-structured cover tent erupts out of earthen rubble, its base adorned with 3D-scanned ceramic palimpsests of Tang dynasty zhenmushou — amorphous multi-species tomb guardians. Inside, a cat demon commences the sluggish therapeutic apply of qigong. Because the feline lifts its paws above its ears and collapses into its knees, viral gifs of personified animals and spambot messages flare onscreen, inciting me to boost my self-cultivation through paid subscriptions and bundle offers.
The exhibition’s central set up, for which the present is titled, is an elaborate modular recreation of the animation’s digital cover and its hybrid demon companions. Undulating sheets of indigo-dyed textiles recount actual and invented multi-species tales via laboriously hand-drawn and stenciled photographs made utilizing glutinous rice paste, a Japanese resist-dye approach. A girl is digested by burrowing worms and noticed frogs; three-headed canines snarl and snap; and mischievous felines dance with long-tongued demons.
The indigo plant, the exhibition’s central materials, is embedded with its personal multi-species narrative. Fermented by Lin in vats of broth, moldy fruit, and the artist’s urine, distinctions between human and nonhuman are collapsed because the plant digests microbes of human extra with a view to produce indigo’s distinctive vibrant hue.
Beneath the luxurious material of this blue refuge, surrounded by multi-faced and multi-limbed tomb guardians, ceramic cat pillows lie on the carpeted ground. An animated feline by the identify of White-n-Grey, based mostly on a feral cat that lived on the artist’s porch, ruminates on its mortality from a small TV within the tent. As I lie on the delicate, stippled rugs, my ear turns chilly from resting on one of many ceramic cats. This emphasis on tactility continues in A Journal of the Plague 12 months (Cat Demon Diary) (2021), a browsable private archive of the yr’s collective terrors and Lin’s anxieties, hopes, and materials processes.
Two sculptures composed of textured surfaces on table-like bases sit simply outdoors the primary area. “Tactile Theater #1 (After Noguchi)” and “Tactile Theater #2 (After Švankmajer)” (each 2021) are finest skilled with one other particular person. As Lin states in a video on the gallery’s web site, viewers are supposed to carry one another’s gaze as they sweep their arms throughout the dips and curves of the surfaces, which reveal themselves to be a mélange of ribs, ears, and nostrils. Right here, the invention of those obscured physique elements can solely be achieved by the softening of our personal corporeal boundaries as arms crash into, loop round, and overlap one another.
Whereas the porous relationship between people and nonhumans spurs fears of contagion, Lin affords an alternate interpretation of multi-species proximity as we advance towards the dire ecological penalties of capitalist development and human exceptionalism. Slightly than establishing obstacles and implementing borders, Lin considers a type of multi-species well-being rooted within the myriad methods human and nonhuman cohabitation happens on this messy, entangled affair known as life.
Candice Lin: Seeping, Rotting, Resting, Weeping continues on the Carpenter Middle for the Visible Arts (Harvard College, 24 Quincy Road, Cambridge, Massachusetts) via April 10. The exhibition was curated by Dan Byers, John R. and Barbara Robinson Household Director, the Carpenter Middle for the Visible Arts, Harvard College; and Victoria Sung, Affiliate Curator of Visible Arts, Walker Artwork Middle.