Big Family: Brothers, Not Comrades
A project by Lin Yilin, with works by Cai Qing, Cai Wei and Fang Lu.
June 15 – August 9, 2009
Please join us for a special event on Sunday, June 14, 4-6pm
Big Family: Brothers, Not Comrades, is a project that explores the dynamic between collective and personal histories through the telling of so-called important events from the perspective of the seemingly insignificant. Inverting the standard narration of 'History' as a chronicle of major events, places and individuals, Lin Yilin's new work, Big Family: Brothers, Not Comrades, presents a record that relates to the mundane, arbitrary and personal. The work attempts to undermine dominant strategies of writing history by putting sidelined events into center stage, playing with the ways we distinguish the important from the irrelevant.
Adopting the stylistic hallmarks of a grand historical timeline, Big Family: Brothers, Not Comrades uses video, photographs and text to chart the events and episodes amongst a specific group of overseas Chinese artists—a family so to speak, spread across different countries and continents—that are united by their joint experiences in migrating from China during the 1990s. Some of the artists mentioned are famous, some are lesser known; some traversed Europe and some went to America, some encountered fame and fortune while others fell ill and died. Yet their lives are all in some way linked by chance episodes and experiences that result from a life in the margins after voluntary or involuntary exile from China. Tracing how these random histories coincide and overlap with one another and with preeminent political figures such as Chairman Mao, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, underscores the random and nonessential roles of these individual histories and locations. As in previous Arrow Factory projects, Big Family: Brothers, Not Comrades is ever mindful of its surrounding environment and context. In this case a set of trivial events occurring amongst minor individuals are purposely presented in a marginal space, calling attention to our own bias and judgment in attaching scales of ‘importance’ to various encounters and experiences. Continuing the timeline up to the present, Arrow Factory and the artist will hold a special informal event on Sunday, June 14 from 4-6pm to commemorate Big Family: Brothers, Not Comrades and to realize the ability for these histories to leave their mark on such far-flung places as an inconsequential hutong alley in Beijing.