Bay Ridge Through an Ecological Lens: Christopher Lin

Photo courtesy Adam Golfer

Bay Ridge through an Ecological Lens is a multi-faceted public art exhibition hosted by Stand4 Gallery and presented in collaboration with ecoartspace

This interactive, public, community arts exhibition is curated by Jennifer McGregor, featuring artists  Rebecca AllanAaron AsisChris CostanKate DoddPeter Edlund, Kristin Reiber-HarrisEllen Coleman-IzzoSergey JivetinNathan Kensinger, Rita LeducChristopher Lin, Nikki LindtE.J. McAdamsJimbo Blachly Nancy Nowacek in collaboration with Carla Kihlstedt and Carlos AlomarBenjamin Swett and filmmakers:  Aaron Assis, Nate DorrSean Hanley, Nathan Kensinger, Nikki Lindt, Emily Packer and Lesley Steele, and Kristin Reiber-Harris

It consists of nature walks and community interventions in the gallery and various locations throughout the Bay Ridge community from April 15 through June 17, 2023. Art Spiel will feature a series of interviews related to this project throughout its duration, here with artist Christopher Lin.

Tell us about your work in the show.

Business as Usual engages with research on urban runoff and the chemistry of our surrounding New York Harbor through electrolysis. In this chemically active installation, I was interested in referencing extractive economies, the process of calcification, and boring dystopias. A calcified brain coral waits at a banker’s table with a curious set of objects: Sand dollars stacked like coins and a ledger full of markings lit by an aquarium. Within, submerged in a water sample of the New York Harbor, symbolic representations of the city (Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, and Empire State Building) function as the cathodes and anodes for electrolysis. As these symbols gradually calcify due to the chemical reaction, the water precipitates various ions like a sepia snow globe, making visible the complex chemistry of our Bay. These precipitates are collected in vials as pigments and turned into ink. Tucked within a bottom drawer is a secret escape into a tiny, lush landscape of mosses collected in the Hudson Valley.

My initial research for this project was centered around New York Harbor filtration by oyster remediation and innovative methods of encouraging oyster reef growth through an electrolytic process called biorock (or seacrete) formation. In this process, an electric field is generated through seawater to accrete calcium carbonate on metal cathodes. In my early experiments with this chemical process, I discovered that a byproduct of this electrolytic reaction was the continual formation of ion precipitates that rise into cloud-like forms and then slowly rain down over the course of the reaction. This ultimately became a new, more complex focus for the work. Contained within this utopian process of bioremediation through symbiotic interaction (oyster regrowth and filtration of our waters) was a visualization of our own dystopian reality.

Photo courtesy of the artist

About the artist: Christopher Lin is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator with a background in research science. Fueled by a lifelong obsession with fossils, his experimental installations, sculptures, and performances question the world we inhabit and envision the one we will leave behind. Often collaborating with non-human organisms or wider ecologies, his time-based works synthesize elements of environmental ecology with meditative practices to explore the interconnected nature of our material world.

After receiving a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Hunter College, Lin was awarded the C12 Emerging Artist Fellowship in 2016. He has shown work and performed recently at Recess Art, Flux Factory, Wave Hill, the United Nations, and the Queens Museum. He was a 2020 Bronx Museum AIM Emerging Artist Fellow and a 2022 Wave Hill Winter Workspace Artist-in-Residence. He currently teaches at Hunter College and Parsons Fine Arts and is co-director of the research-based artist collective Sprechgesang Institute.

Bay Ridge Through an Ecological Lens April 15 – June 17, 2023 A Public Art Exhibition Curated by: Jennifer McGregor