‘A History of Future Contagion’: Candice Lin and Neel Ahuja in conversation

art installation showing a panel with eyes drawn on it i Candice Lin, A Robot Spoke What My Father Wrote, 2019. Cut sheetrock, wood, razor-wire, welded gate, glazed ceramics, paper, photographs, synthetic hair, dried bacterial colony, dried tobacco, dried bat, sisal whip, chain, bone black pigment, black mold, rusty nails, aluminum spoon, cactus tincture. 244 x 914.5 x 152.5 cm. Installation view from Pigs and Poison, Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China, March 19 to May 15, 2021. Courtesy of the Artist, Guangdong Times Museum, and François Ghebaly. Photography: Luo Xianglin.

From 5 February to 8 May 2022, Spike Island presents Pigs and Poison, a multidisciplinary exhibition of work by Chinese American artist Candice Lin. The exhibition explores the migrant experience, disease poetics, and colonial legacies through tumour-like sculptures, a virtual reality environment, and a monumental wooden trebuchet that hurls cannonballs made from lard and bone black pigment to smear the gallery walls. Attentive to what the artist calls ‘the margins of history,’ Lin’s broader practice examines race-making and colonial matrices of power, while imagining alternative narratives often modelled upon interspecies relationships from ecological perspectives.

Similar concerns animate the work of scholar Neel Ahuja. Informed by feminist, queer, and critical race studies, Ahuja’s research explores the relationship of the human body to animals and viruses, while analysing how states and scientists try to manage the environmental risks of contact across species and borders.

For this event, organised in partnership with Spike Island, Lin and Ahuja will join each other online for a discussion about Pigs and Poison, Lin’s broader practice, disease ecology, and the affects and materiality of contagion and control in coloniality and post-coloniality.

Candice Lin is an artist and Assistant Professor of Art at UCLA based in Altadena and Los Angeles. Her practice utilises installation, drawing, video, and living materials and processes, such as mould, mushrooms, bacteria, fermentation, and stains. Prior to Spike Island, Pigs and Poison has travelled to Times Museum, Guangzhou and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth in 2020. Lin’s other exhibition cycle includes A Hard White Body at Bétonsalon, Paris (2017); Portikus, Frankfurt; and the Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago (both 2018). Her work has been shown at museums and biennales internationally and she is the recipient of numerous awards including the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant (2019), The Artists Project Award (2018) and Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (2017).

Neel Ahuja is Visiting Professor in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ahuja is the author of two books, Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species (2016) and Planetary Specters: Race, Migration, and Climate Change in the Twenty-First Century (2021). He has written a variety of essays on the connections of race and colonialism to the fields of disability studies and animal studies. He is currently working on two research areas, one exploring the race and species politics of COVID-19 and another analysing United States counterterrorism incarceration, rendition, and interrogation practices.

Organised by Sophie Guo (The Courtauld) and Andrew Cummings (The Courtauld), in partnership with Spike Island, Bristol, where Candice Lin’s solo exhibition Pigs and Poison is presented from 5 February to 8 May 2022. 

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5:30pm, 14 Mar 2022

Monday 14th March 2022, 5.30pm - 6.30pm GMT

Free, booking essential

Online 

Registration closes 30 minutes before the event start time. If you do not receive log in details on the day of the event, please contact researchforum@courtauld.ac.uk  

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Research
Photograph of round table containing open books which have been soaked in a brown liquid
Detail of Candice Lin, In my memory it is raining inside my father’s house (Solaris) , 2020. Wood table, books, oil paint on yuzo paper, marine epoxy, pump, water, aluminum grid. 89 x 109 x 109 cm. Installation view from Pigs and Poison, Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China, March 19 to May 15, 2021. Courtesy of the Artist, Guangdong Times Museum, and François Ghebaly. Photography: Luo Xianglin.

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