Lin Tianmiao is considered one of today’s most notorious contemporary artists in China, especially among women who are under-represented there in her field. Her signature medium is everyday materials, particularly woven textile such as silk, which she uses to convey modern women’s frustrations and identity. This has earned her the “feminist artist” label, one that she rejects. Male or female, her cryptic and ethereal works have captured the imagination for decades. These include her dramatic installations of mannequins with odd growths and long, flowing cloaks, or her 20,000 balls of thread attached to an iron bed, as well as her dreamy photography works.
“Focus No. 37” (2004) by Lin Tianmiao
Her “Focus” portrait photo series is currently on view in the “Conceal/Reveal: Making Meaning in Chinese Art” group showing at Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAM). It is an unsettling combination where gossamer-thin thread is braided into the subject’s face. Partly obscured and blurry, her new work is self-contradictory, in the sense that Lin is identifying herself as flawed and multi-faceted rather than an empowered icon. Check out more of her work through the years below.