18 February, 2016 through 29 May, 2016
Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD)
GF De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, School of Design and Arts Campus,
Dominga Street, Manila, Philippines
“Michael Lin: Locomotion” was the artist’s first solo presentation in the Philippines. Internationally known for creating monumental site-specific painted installations, Lin’s interventions redesign and reconfigure public spaces, dynamically transforming the way they are perceived by the public.
A number of Lin’s previous projects have re-envisioned unusual sites for display, including a bookstore, tennis court, community hall, and atrium, among others. His aversion to the standard white box setting is a testament that his practice does not merely produce paintings on a flat canvas or as objects. Rather, Lin activates public spaces with specific colors and ornamental patterns while keeping faithful to its contextual purpose and architectural integrity. He thus seeks to eliminate the distance between the viewer and a painting, away from an object of contemplation and toward one as an unbounded, interactive and inhabitable space.
Created especially for the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) in Manila, Lin enveloped the walls of the galleries with an uninterrupted and fluid floral arrangement. Using his signature decorative patterns based on traditional Taiwanese textiles, Lin’s exploration of ornaments and their motifs underscores the artist’s interest in the histories of these designs, especially as it pertains to associations from his childhood and domesticity of everyday life. The imagery adapts and flows on top, through, or in between the nooks and corners of the building, transitioning into different forms—from painting, to drawing, to print—unyielding by the structure’s unique characteristics and multi-textured surfaces.
The subject of the everyday is also an integral source of inspiration to Lin’s work. For “Michael Lin: Locomotion”, Lin sourced inspiration from Manila’s urban landscape and produces an exchange with pedicab drivers. An avid cyclist, Lin’s interest in inclusive mobility in densely and over populated cities drew his attention to the pedicab—Philippines’ second most ubiquitous mode of transportation next to the jeepney—and in particular toward the iconography of their cover design, reading them as an emblem belonging to a homegrown subculture of folk art. Selected pedicabs adorn the same pattern as the interior walls of the museum thereby metaphorically and physically extending the galleries out into the community and likewise bridging a specific component of our daily life inside the building.
Fifteen pedicabs, now art objects decked with Lin’s prints, become geographical indices pedaling through the interstices of the city, tracing a line of art along the streets of Manila. Once a day, they enter the museum to pick up a passenger or two, and for that moment while inside the museum, their pedicab tarps hone in on the central image found within before it rides out back to the streets. Locomotion is, unless parked, moving, taking people from point to point. With the pedicab, maps are thwarted, and enters areas unknown to art and vise versa. The wall patterns that travel from interior wall to exterior geography are like a slice of the art world moving through streets. Michel de Certeau writes that maps organize cities to establish power, a guide to “read” the city, and in this way, own it: as far as the eye can see. This “reading” loses efficacy once on the ground, the city becomes opaque needing someone to weave across its terrain for places to open up again.