Lin Yilin: The Departure from Her Feet

Exhibition Dates: 2 Dec., 2017 – 13 Jan., 2018

Opening: 2 Dec., 2017


Boers-Li Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of the solo exhibition, “Lin Yilin: The Departure from Her Feet” on December 2, 2017. On the occasion of his first collaboration with the gallery, the exhibition brings together four recent projects from 2011-2015, executed at various locations across the world. On view are the videos and photographs of these performances. 


Lin Yilin, a seminal figure of the contemporary Chinese art scene since the 1990s, held a number of exhibitions and activities with Xu Tan, Chen Shaoxiong and Liang Juhui under the name of the Big Tail Elephant Group in Guangzhou. The group formed in the southern city of Guangzhou - one of the first to undergo rapid urban development and modernization in light of the social and economic reform policies in China - has adopted the unfolding transformations around them as a stage on which, they experimented with conceptual art practiced with multimedia art forms such as photography, video, performance and installations. An iconic piece Lin executed in 1995, Safely Maneuvering Across Linhe Road, in which the artist moved a wall of cinder blocks piece by piece from one side of the street to the other, foregrounded the central notions in Lin Yilin’s art practice – translating the impact from one’s urban, political and social environment, by imposing challenges on one’s own physical strength and stamina.


The four works presented in this exhibition seek to investigate how individual gestures challenge conventional norms of human behaviors in public space. In these cases, the body of the artist serves as an interlocutor between the self, in these cases, an implant, a cultural “other” or an émigré, and his foreign environments. By choosing approaches that engage with the new public with the awareness of his non-Western identity, he pushes the existing boundaries of social and urban constraints and tests the political impact created by interactions between the human body and its surroundings.


The Departure from Her Feet, a 3-days performance executed upon the invitation of the 12th Swiss Sculpture Biennale in 2014 took place in the small town of Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, where the artist chose three locations, the statue of justice (a blindfolded female figure holding a sword and a scale erected above a water fountain), Zentralplatz (a public square), and Le Centre PasquArt (Museum of Contemporary Art) as points of departure, from where he traversed the streets towards city hall by rolling on the ground. This piece, derived from his previous performance executed from a three-months artist-in-residence program at the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco, Golden Journey, for which the artist’s rolling on the ground as a way of occupying a new environment was mitigated by a convoy of locals, with whom he moved about various sites of the city collectively. We Are Very Heavy, executed for the 12th Havana Biennale, Lin invited the locals and the tourists to be weighed in on a Chinese scale, which left a long trail of their bodyweights marked on the streets. The action of lifting and weighing as way of intervention resonated with a time when the U.S government was lifting sanctions and travel bans to this formerly closed-off socialist state. Lastly,Holiday, executed in Rome, unlike the other works in this exhibition, simply reveals a personal reaction to a daily necessity as essential as eating, in a foreign setting, by which one’s discordance may amplifies on other registers in the context of the global.