> Candice Lin on her exhibition, The Animal Husband, at Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery.  - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Candice Lin on her exhibition, The Animal Husband, at Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery. 

Ocar Lund interviews American multidisciplinary artist Candice Lin for SNACK

Candice Lin is an American multidisciplinary artist who currently resides in Los Angeles, where she works as an assistant professor at UCLA. With work ranging from ceramic totems and metal pendants to elaborate tapestries and uncanny animations, Candice is a multifaceted artist with an impressive catalogue that has featured across the globe.

Her exhibition, The Animal Husband, at Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery, explores the relationships that we as humans have with the animal world, from a distinctly non-human perspective.

The traditional view of human mastery over the animal kingdom is flipped on its head, with stories of how the human world is shaped by our treatment of animals. ‘Piss Protection Demon’ uses real wolf urine to symbolise the mark that wolves have left on human culture and mythology. Human-sized collars with metal pendants subvert traditional understandings of ownership.

Other pieces, like the titular ‘The Animal Husband’, explore a more intimate view of animal-human relationships, with the animation featuring a story told from the perspective of Candice’s pet cat, Roger. Her dark but often comedic work draws upon the complex ways that humans interact with, and are affected by, the animal world.

Candice Lin, Piss Protection Demon, 2022. Glazed ceramic and wolf piss. Installation view. Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh. Photo Credit: Sally Jubb

What is the underlying narrative that ties the pieces of The Animal Husband together?

The works in The Animal Husband look at our relationships to animals and how the value they represent to us has shaped ideas of sexuality, intimacy, violence/disposable life, and empire.

Your work explores your relationship with your cat, or rather his relationship with you, but how would you describe your relationship with animals in general?

Like most people, there are many ways animals intersect with my life beyond the explicit one of my relationship with Roger, my companion animal, my pet. I eat animals; I am clothed by animals; I make art with animal by-products; sometimes with animal subject matter. I inherit a framework of ideas around what it means to be human, raced, gendered, and homosexual from the way we control and manage animal life, categorisation, and breeding or sterilisation.

Could you explain your choice to employ medieval and early-modern imagery/themes in your work?

There is no specific reference to medieval art, but I have been told I have a medieval or Gothic or Victorian style, which I think just comes from an aesthetic formed from books and book illustrations rather than pop culture.

Candice Lin, ‘The Moon/Inside Out’, 2013. Installation view. Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh.
Photo Credit: Sally Jubb

How do you think modern society values animals and connections with them?

I think that the role of the pet comes out of a kind of modern liberal humanism that uses the pet as a model for family devotion, which, as Anna Tsing writes, ‘does not spread love; it holds it tight inside the family’ and serves as a model that enforces ideas of paternalism and family hierarchical systems that echo a microcosm of the nation.

The etchings on the balcony that accompany the majority of the collars don’t appear in the exhibition program.

Yes, the drawings scratched into the walls of the inset bays in the upper balcony were an improvisational decision.

It came about when we were playing with the lighting upstairs and I wanted to create a dim, red-lit space, punctuated by the collars in each central bay, and was searching to find a way to connect the themes between the collars (which name different ways of relating to animals: groom, fatten, hold) to the works below. I was thinking about the marks left by Roger on the things he scratches to mark territory, or demand food or attention, and created the series of drawings scratched with a sharpened piece of metal into the walls.

You use a broad range of media, from stop motion and 3D animation to metalwork and ceramics. Do you have a favourite?

No, I pick whatever medium fits the concept or subject matter best, or whatever I am materially excited with experimenting with at that particular moment.

Candice Lin, ‘The Animal Husband’, 2023. Single-channel video with stereo sound on a rotating screen. 10 minutes 59 secs. Installation view. Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh. Photo Credit: Sally Jubb

Where did you get the titular ‘protection piss’ from?

The piss protection demon, a ceramic sculpture, originally was made to diffuse a vapour of wolf piss sourced from a wolf sanctuary in California. The wolf piss used in this iteration was sprayed onto the sculpture by hand (due to historic building restrictions) and was sourced by the curator locally.

What’s next for you?

I am working on a solo show that opens at MUMA in Melbourne at the end of June which will have some of the works from The Animal Husband and other works, as well as a solo exhibition at the Jameel Arts Centre [Dubai] in September.

The Animal Husband will run until 1st June at Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery

Main Photo: Candice Lin, ‘The Animal Husband’. Installation view. Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh. Photo: Sally Jubb

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