La Charada China (Tobacco Version), 2019

Miami Beach 2019
François Ghebaly
Mixed Media

The presented work is a part of Candice Lin’s larger project of utilizing symbolically and historically significant materials to reflect on the global histories of exploitation and colonial violence. On a steel and cement table the figure of a man, cut from dried tobacco leaves, lies amidst a scattering of objects – Dominican and California clay, cacao seeds, indigo, Chinese herbs, sugar cane, opium poppy pods, glass slides, a teapot. A distiller on the figure’s abdomen boils a mixture of water, sugar, tea, tobacco, poppy, and urine. This litany of plants and other goods evokes the history of so-called ‘coolie’ laborers, Chinese workers that were coercively brought to the Caribbean and the American South in the 1800s and forced to work under brutal, dehumanizing conditions. The distillate – pure water mixed with plant volatiles and any pharmaceuticals or drugs in the urine-donor’s system – leaves the table through a series of tubes, pumps and buckets, ultimately falling from a height onto a mass of unfired porcelain. As a stand-in for the human body, the form slowly wears away under the periodic drip of the distillate.

Candice Lin’s (born 1979 in Concord, Massachusetts) interdisciplinary work often involves living materials and processes, such as mold, mushrooms, bacteria, fermentation, and stains. She holds an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute and a double BA in Visual Arts and Art Semiotics from Brown University. In 2018, she was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Art at UCLA. Lin lives and works in Los Angeles.

Access the Audio Guide by Magalí Arriola.