Critics’ Picks

View of “You Are a Spacious Fluid Sac,” 2015.

View of “You Are a Spacious Fluid Sac,” 2015.

Los Angeles

Candice Lin

François Ghebaly
2245 E Washington Blvd.
September 12–October 24, 2015

If Western historians like to imagine phallic arrows of progress, Candice Lin offers a circular, organic, and panbiological corrective. Her current show infects the authority of didactic forms familiar to ethnographic museums. One lushly illuminated manuscript, 5 Kingdoms (book) (all works 2015), unfolds a mythology that accounts not just for animals, plants, and people, but also germs and fungi. Small stones and a desiccated paw support its folds. Nearby, a series of framed panels incorporate samples of dried herbs, archival images, and quote passages that unsettle the pat platitudes of patriarchal civilization. Minimizing the Male, for example, features apocryphal citations of lactating men, including one who claimed to have nursed eight children.

Other pieces translate the dark realities of the animal kingdom into all-too-human artifacts. A pair of alien steel weapons, decorated with kangaroo lace, portray the sex organs of insects that reproduce via traumatic insemination. Recipe for Spontaneous Generation: Baby Mice is a jar of vodka infused with, indeed, tiny dead rodents. Such are the cruelties of reproduction—a compulsion that, Lin suggests, we might recognize in others and so adapt in ourselves. Through a deep, fetid bio-awareness that counters the outsize importance of, say, the male of the species, or the colonial/alchemical tendencies of science, Lin’s show retools our rituals as counterhumanism. And if there is any doubt, climb inside You Are a Parasite, a giant fiberglass ant head, where a cave-like ambiance appointed with pink fun-fur rugs and battery-powered candles might make us feel uncannily at home—like the parasites we are.