To the Shore: an artist emerges

Anchi Lin aims to bring beauty out of the mundane | Photo courtesy of Anchi Lin

Anchi Lin aims to bring beauty out of the mundane | Photo courtesy of Anchi Lin

In 2015 the director of the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG) went to a grad show at Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s School for the Contemporary Arts, where he picked an artist to be the recipient of a new annual award. The emerging artist chosen was Anchi Lin, and her first solo exhibition, To the Shore, is now on display at the CAG until July 17.

Lin’s piece is a video performance using a broom to create the sound of the ocean, attempting to make the seemingly mundane activity of sweeping something that could be described as almost beautiful.

“It was mostly connecting to my personal poetic sense,” says Lin. “The action is clear, but what’s in your mind changes it. It’s how you perceive something that makes it what it is.”

By providing a new perspective from which to view a chore like sweeping, Lin wants to show that everything can have poetry or personal meaning.

“You shouldn’t have a looking-down perspective. Some people look down on jobs or genders, but that shouldn’t be.”

The journey

Not looking down at anything is the reason Lin is where she is now. She sees the broom-made sound as a representation of immigration across the ocean, a journey she experienced when she arrived in Canada from Taiwan 12 years ago. Frustrated with the Taiwanese education system and cultural pressure holding her back from who she wanted to be, Lin decided to make the leap into a new country.

“As an Asian woman, there is an expectation of domestic life. There’s an expectation to go to school for business, be a lawyer, be an electrician… You better be in one of those professions. You better be useful.”

Lin wanted to carve out her own path, which is one of the reasons she decided to come to Canada. She didn’t come here knowing that she wanted to create art; she just wanted the opportunity to explore what she could do.

“When I came to Canada I was into computers, but I found myself getting frustrated with what exactly I was doing. I found the direction to where I am now, with computer/tech-based art.”

After over a decade in Canada, Lin is embracing the Canadian identity while still holding on to her Taiwanese heritage.

“I would like to bring my experience living in Taiwan and implement it in my art – bring it to Western Culture, and bring a new experience for people to see,” says Lin.

While admitting that she can sometimes feel distant from both Canadian and Taiwanese cultures, Lin says that her experiences in both countries have had a huge impact on her.

“I realize how little I know myself, which makes me want to understand more about myself and to connect with Taiwan there and through people here.”

Just a little peace and quiet

Lin came to SFU from Langara, upon one of her teachers’ recommendations. She created the video for To the Shore in an SFU studio, and says the reason she uses video is to capture the moment.

“If I perform something live every day, it’s not going to be the same. The video can capture the moment where everything is right.”

And finding the right moment can be a challenge sometimes. The buildings at SFU are busy during the day, so Lin often stays late at night to find the quiet needed to make her videos. The video for To the Shore was filmed at 2 a.m.

“I do lots of videos at night,” says Lin, “That’s the time when I can be slow. Everything is so fast, and I want to escape that. I like to be in a quiet environment.”

Lin doesn’t do her work late just for herself, she does it to meticulously produce her best quality art.

“Artists lots of the time are forced to produce things at a fast pace, but that can cause things to lose quality. I’m hoping that using the element of slowness can help rethink and revise how art can be produced and envisioned.”

For more information, please visit