“I deleted the background to remove the pupils’ contact with reality, so they seem to be lined up in empty space.”
Born Xiamen, 1979. Lives and works in Amsterdam
Meiya Lin has a keen eye for the small absurdities of everyday life. Her seemingly artless video works zoom in on essentials, with backgrounds blurred or cut away. The Times Are Summoning (2007) pokes fun at Communism’s obsession with social control. Children in clean white shorts and red Young Pioneer scarves line up in precise rows and begin their daily exercises. (The Young Pioneers’ oath includes a vow to “study well and keep myself fit, to prepare myself to aid the cause of communism.”) The instructor calls the moves with unflagging zeal, but the children seem less than enthused. Little by little, disorder intrudes. Arms do the wrong thing, knees bend out of sync, heads turn the wrong way. Lin did these same exercises as a schoolgirl. Then, she says, “everyone had to follow the rules and do the same moves. Kids today have a completely different, relaxed attitude.” In her video, the social choreography never entirely disintegrates, but in their lackadaisical way, the children make clear that they are not parts of a machine but individuals with minds of their own.