Treading on Thin Ice contemplates human conditions under progressive catastrophes resulting from social issues and climate change. By employing the concept of landscape as traces of human history as a battleground and an extension of the human body, Lin presents a post-landscape where nature, human activities, and materiality intersect. By utilizing body imagery as a receiver and reflector, the artist explores using our physical bodies as vehicles for reconstructing the events and environments to which we have directly or indirectly been exposed. The project integrates sculpture, video projections, and sound into a large site-specific installation.
In the installation at Locust Projects, Lin presented a manmade natural environment to explore adaptation, the psychological space, and subtle changes in our everyday lives under the inevitable—our changing environment. Manipulating our senses of familiar and unfamiliar, the center of the exhibition is a backyard-like installation that situates the artist’s sculptures with concrete pavers and artificial grass, which are commonly used for patios in Florida. The main video is projected onto a large screen above a blue-mirrored plexiglas that symbolizes a backyard swimming pool.
With footage that includes natural and artificial landscapes, an interview at a genetic laboratory, a scene with actors and a scenic panorama captured on Mars, the video creates a cross-path dialogue exploring our existence and the connections among change, adaptation, hope, human behavior, and emotions. The single-shot improvised acting by two actors, An-Ru Chu and Christopher J. Staley, explores our current moments and the fine line between genuine human reaction and sophisticated acting, based on the concepts found in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days and Waiting for Godot. An interview with scientist Dave Jackson about his blue-sky research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York provides a neutral explanation of why artificial changes and genetic exploration have become inevitable and reflects the parallel path that both artists and scientists pursue to prove a concept. Lin also explores the boundary between artificial, natural, and imagined landscape through the eye of a digital camera while visiting a Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida.
Lin collaborated with Berlin-based sound artist Cedrik Fermont and new media artist Chun-Li Wang on the soundtrack and 3D animations for the video. Fermont created sound and music that respond to the imagery and channel the emotions of the video. Wang animated both 3D patterns to visualize Lin’s concepts and an imagined landscape based on images of a collapsing iceberg, Mars (by NASA), and the online texture library Megascans.
The sculptures are inspired by scholar’s rocks, naturally occurring stones of various colors and abstract shapes that were famously admired by Chinese scholars during earlier centuries. These represent a micro landscape that allows for contemplating our current world. The sculptures appear deformed by outer forces and represent a combination of the human body, animals, and rock with no specific contoured reference.
Treading on Thin Ice premieres at Locust Projects and will continue its expedition in the Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Norway in 2022. The exhibition is commissioned by Locust Projects, and supported, in part, by the National Culture and Arts Foundation of Taiwan and The Puffin Foundation.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jia-Jen Lin is a Taiwanese-American artist based in Brooklyn. Her installations mediate the body, space, human condition, and our society. Lin’s practice explores human experiences and how they inhabit our bodies despite different space and time. She creates visual presentations to investigate the human body and its surroundings as a reflection of our psyche. With an interdisciplinary approach, Lin’s installations often span several media, including sculpture, photography, video, sound, text, and performance.
Her interest developed around transforming experience through modifying materials and objects into three-dimensional presentations. By employing her body and mind as an experiential interface, she looks into the subjects of cultural identities, struggles, correlated relationships between our physicality and psychology, and the resemblance between art making and manufacturing in social content.
Among other places, her works have been shown in the Queens Museum in New York, Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota, Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale in South Korea, the Watermill Center in New York, Hangar in Barcelona, gr_und in Berlin, and the Rubber Factory in New York. She was selected as artist in residence at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Nebraska, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in Australia, the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, L’Estruch in Spain, and Sculpture Space in New York. Lin has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Taiwan Ministry of Culture, and the National Culture and Arts Foundation in Taiwan. In 2019, Lin curated When Artists Enter the Factories, a large-scale exhibition at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. In 2022, she will attend an Autumn Expedition in Svalbard, Norway with the The Arctic Circle.
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