Candice Lin Summons Lithium Factory Sex Demons in New York
Lin's possessed factory comes to Canal Projects in New York following its debut at Gwangju Biennale.
Exhibition view: Candice Lin, Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory, Canal Projects, New York (22 September–22 December 2023). Commissioned by Canal Projects and the 14th Gwangju Biennale. Courtesy Canal Projects, the artist, and François Ghebaly Gallery. Photo: Izzy Leung.
Visitors to New York art space Canal Projects will find themselves in a factory possessed by a lustful spirit.
Candice Lin's installation Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory (2023) is on show there from 22 September to 16 December.
The work is jointly commissioned by Canal Projects and the 14th Gwangju Biennale, where it debuted in April.
Lithium Sex Demons' narrative traverses six ceramic work stations connected by tubing to ceramic fermentation urns. It derives from a story Lin wrote about a sex-demon's quest from beyond the grave to find a lost lover in a lithium battery factory.
Lin's source material lies in Asian ghost myths—China's è guǐ (hungry ghosts), Japan's shit-eating gaki, and penanggal from Malaysia that feed on menstrual blood—and accounts of demonic possession among Malaysian factory workers written in anthropologist Aihwa Ong's Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline (1987).
Placed among ancient and contemporary industrial items, screens display animations depicting stages of the sex-demon's quest. The story concludes when the cat-like demon exchanges a brief glance with his lover before being exorcised into oblivion.
Lin is interested in lithium for its use in the production of both ceramics and electronics.
'I think people are really hungry for immersive experiences–artworks that both make you think about our enmeshment with colonial histories of global trade and colonial and contemporary globalised production chains and power structures, while also having an experience with the whole body,' Lin told Ocula Magazine.
She wants to create experiences 'that people feel with their bodies and souls in deep and sometimes uncomfortable ways that haunt them to question things in their lives and don't offer any easy resolutions or answers.'
Changing things after Gwangju, Lin has brought the elevated manager's station to the centre of the installation at Canal Projects. This implicates the viewer more directly, making them overseers of the factory and its power, gender, labour, environmental, and social dynamics.
This elevated surveillance view, Lin notes, is undercut by the oppressively low ceiling, flickering fluorescent lights, and glowing red holes in the floor 'that threaten to swallow you from below'.
Beneath the manager's station, onggi (a traditional Korean earthenware vessel) sit on sculpted clay altars. An audio narration of the story is accompanied by ambient sounds.
The installation also incorporates textile works which Lin has been developing since 2020.
'I think people have really related to the tactile elements in my recent work in this post-pandemic era where the porosity and desires of the body are so much more present to all of us,' Lin noted.
While Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory runs at Canal Projects in New York, Lin will also be flying large indigo-dyed kites in Regent's Park as part of her commission for PST Art at Frieze London (11–15 October). —[O]