The art exhibition is a COVID retreat with layers of meaning

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When artist Candice Lin looked for ways to respond to the pandemic, she began to build. The resulting structure – part tent, part retreat, and part history lesson – is now on display at the Walker Art Center.

The official title of the work is “To infiltrate, to rot, to rest, to cry”. Spread across the floor of a Walker gallery, it looks like a desert nomad’s tent tinted with deep indigo.

“I think I wanted to create a space of privacy, touch and rest. And we started calling it our feline temple halfway through planning the catalog for the show,” said Lin, sitting in the tent on the carpet, surrounded by half a dozen ceramic cats.

They were inspired in part by her own cat, Roger. Yet like many things in Lin’s work, these cats are more than they seem.

“This is based on the Tang Dynasty Cat, a ceramic cat pillow, which also had this kind of weird human face, but it’s very comfortable,” she said.

Artist Candice Lin inside her installation “Sneak, rot, rest, cry”.

Evan Frost | MPR News

Visitors are encouraged to see how comfortable they are when unloading and lying down. Lin designed everything in this show to be touched. This decision came at the start of the pandemic, as people were told to stay isolated from each other as much as possible.

“I was really optimistic because I was like, ‘oh, it will be so nice to create a place where, when all of this is done, we can touch things again, and love to think about our bodies and love to be in there. ‘space together with these tactile materials.’ “

So you can touch the tent and the demonic statues that serve as tent poles. You can lie on the mat and watch the animated videos she has created. You can also participate in a qigong class, which is based on a videotape that his parents use at home. Lin’s version is ruled by a jovial, gaudy cat demon.

“I feel like it wouldn’t make sense that it exists and that it’s not like a space that you can walk in and love, touch and interact with,” Lin said. “And I have this strange confidence in the public. I tell myself that they won’t want to, like, ruin anything on purpose. You know? I hope it’s true.

Visitors are encouraged to sit with a friend and explore what Lin calls tactile theaters. They are sculpted surfaces, with curves, nooks and crannies, and even an ear in one of them. They are set up like chess tables, with chairs.

Headphones sit next to a TV.

A small television broadcasts a video featuring an animated demon resembling a cat inside the installation “Seping, Rotting, Resting, Weeping” by artist Candice Lin.

Evan Frost | MPR News

“The idea is for people to sit across from each other and sort of feel the sensual outlines of the different shapes and forms embedded in it when they look at each other and, like, touch this body of. substitution.”

However, Lin does not describe the exhibition as a safe space.

Lots of things lurk beneath the tactile surfaces of “Continued, rot, rest, crying,” and it all has layers of meaning if a visitor wants to explore, Lin said.

“A lot of the work I was doing before that was about thinking about the stories of hygiene and disease and the racialization of them. And that was the work I was doing before COVID became timely in a way. different. ”

There are images of historical figures on the tent walls and the carpet. Lin said that even the background color made sense.

“There’s like a story where indigo is linked to slavery and Asian contract labor. But it’s also like a beautiful color and dye material. But it’s, it’s heavy,” she declared.

A ceramic cat sculpture.

Inside the “Sneak, rot, rest, cry” installation is a ceramic cat where people can rest their heads.

Evan Frost | MPR News

There is little explanation for the show’s layers except in the form of the remarkable artist’s diary, which Lin kept during the pandemic. He recounts her research, as well as what she was experiencing personally. It is filled with her drawings and also quotes copied from things that she has read.

It’s a show where people can go as far as they want, said Walker’s curator Victoria Sung.

“Visitors can spend as little or as much time in this space as they want, and they can actually browse every page of the book,” Sung said. “If you look at the sculptures, every time you look at them there is something different that you will see.”

The handmade newspaper is about a square foot and very dense. Lin opened it towards the end and turned the pages.

“It was like I was getting my vaccine, which was so exciting,” she said. “And then, no, it’s not that exciting. It was sad. It’s kind of a memorial document after the Gold Spa shooting.”

It’s an image she drew of a crowd gathered to mark the murder of eight people at three Asian spa companies in Atlanta in March. It deflates her momentarily. The pandemic has been tough, and Candice Lin is aware of the irony of her show opening up in the shadow of the Delta variant, but she’s optimistic we’ll be going through that, too.

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