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Elephants in Bern (excerpt)

Bernard Fibicher

Lin Yilin’s contribution to the Kunsthalle exhibition comprises four parts. One part consists of a wall build to block off the straightest path to the main venue, and featuring a blank space in the shape of the artist’s silhouette. Chinese bank notes have been squeezed between the wall’s brick stones, graphically conveying the idea that vast amounts of capital have been invested in southern China’s frenetic building spree. A further allusion concerns the fact that the flow of money in china has been blocked as a result of this state of affairs. The artist reappears, but this time in the positive – as a life size, cut out, and mounted on cardboard self-portrait. The accompanying photo documentation provides visual proof that Lin Yilin’s portrait image, covered with “security checked” adhesive taping, partakes of a dual performance by having cleared various checkpoints, border controls and customs offices from Guangzhou to the Zurich airport, and on to the Kunsthalle. The artist involves himself directly in his presentation a third time by inscribing the big wall of the main gallery with slogans by Mao Tse-tung, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin Promoting single-child families. Visual access to these inscriptions on birth control, written in both Chinese and German, is partially obstructed by a delicate chain created out of the artist’s own shaven, and then knotted together, pubic hairs. Six monitors in the hallway provide images of Hong Kong Chinese nationals for whom it is a struggle to read out loud these very slogans, since they are in China’s official language (Mandarin) which they no longer master. Underscored by distortion of the soundtrack, the end effect is pure cacophony. Clearly, this four part work by Lin Yilin concerns the basic conflict between identity loss and establishment. What sort of future is reserved to a society of single-child families? What repercussions  



© lin yilin 2018

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