Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now

Lin Tianmiao
(Chinese, born 1961)
Focus I C

Lin Tianmiao. Focus I C. 2006

Lithograph and screenprint with thread additions, Sheet: 50 x 39 3/4" (127 x 101 cm). Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © 2018 Lin Tianmiao

NARRATOR: The artist Lin Tianmiao talked about her work, Focus I C, from her home in Beijing.

LIN TIANMIAO: My name's Lin Tianmiao. I from Beijing.

NARRATOR: Take a few steps back from the work. What comes into view is a closely-cropped image of a face that’s been enlarged.

LIN TIANMIAO: This is a photograph that a young girl's face. She's like 16.

From my experience, if the image very clear, maybe you only step there few minutes, then you left. If you lose the focus, maybe you stand there for more time. You try to understand what happen. What is that? Why they lose the focus.

This girl can be everyone, can be my daughter, can be your daughter. Maybe can be daughter of the audience.

When I was very young, Mao's portrait was everywhere. And we have Social Security with the picture, your picture. Must show people where you from, what are you, what's the position you have.

I think the clear face, clear image, for Chinese, is very political. I want to make the audience lose the focus. I want to give more space for the audience to use imagination.

NARRATOR: Before working exclusively as an artist, Tianmiao was a textile designer, and she often uses thread and string in her works on paper. With Focus I C, Tianmiao projected a distorted photograph onto a sheet of wet paper. Then she embedded thread over the nose and mouth area. Once the paper was dry, she actually printed the image.

LIN TIANMIAO: I think that this one is quite special because why that peaceful girl? Why does she have a lot of things in her mouth? This is the question. Why?

I use art to explain my heart, or explain my mind without any language. This is my job.

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