Gasworks presents “A Body Reduced to Brilliant Colour”, the first UK solo exhibition by Candice Lin.
The exhibition explores how histories of slavery and colonialism have been shaped by human attraction to particular colours, tastes, textures and drugs. Focusing on how the desire to wear, become enraptured by or ingest certain plants and substances preceded the will to trade them as commercial goods, the exhibition traces the materialist urges at the root of colonial violence.
A low-tech installation of tubing, plastic and glass containers, porcelain filters, hot plates, and other hacked household objects boils, ferments, distils, dyes and pumps liquid containing colonial trade goods such as cochineal, sugar and tea. The system created by these diverse elements surrounds a large, waterproof basin of Vitruvian proportions. ‘Fed’ two litres of water each day, this work – which the artist describes as a ‘flayed circulatory system’ – constantly produces a brownish-red fluid, which collects in the basin and is gradually siphoned off, congealing in a pool on a marble-effect laminate floor in the adjacent gallery.
Living processes, from fermentation to the generation of an electrical current through bacterial digestion, join with objects, organic matter and DIY mechanics to constitute a ritualistic act in which ceaseless movement echoes the histories of trade that entangle them. Transforming prized, historically-loaded goods into a stain reminiscent of murder, faeces or menstrual blood, the work speaks to these fraught histories of conquest, slavery, torture and theft, while at the same time exploring what happens when materials so burdened with history and meaning are situated in – and produce – new systems of relations.