Mysterial Power: Recent Video by Lana Lin

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | October 9, 2003

Thursday, October 9, 2003, 8:15pm

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Lana Lin in person!

Translations of all types are the subject of video artist Lana Lin’s recent work. No Power to Push Up The Sky (2001) is structured around an interview with Chinese student activist Chai Ling in the turbulent days before the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre; Lin asked fifteen Chinese-and-English speakers to translate Chai Ling’s emotional speech, thus uncovering the subjective motivations underlying any retelling of history (the title derives, poignantly, from a slogan the 23-year-old student leader scrawled on her clothing to express the feeling of helplessness in the face of state power). Drawing a connection between electronic and cultural translation, Taiwan Video Club (1999) features the artist’s mother engaging in the “benignly illegal trafficking” of bootleg videos dubbed from Taiwanese television.  The network of elderly Asian-American women who share the tapes grapple with degenerating image quality but find unity in native culture and common past.  Finally, translations of a spiritual sort inform Mysterial Power (2002) which draws inspiration from the artist’s adolescent cousin in Taiwan, who has been communicating with deities of Taiwanese mythology since childhood; Lin describes the work as “both a personal and ethnographic pursuit of knowledge,” in which “the figure of the modern spiritual medium acts as a translator between different categories of experience” (Jim Trainor). 1999—2002, Lana Lin, Taiwan/USA, ca. 90 min, various formats.

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