April Lin 林森
(Tending) (to) (Ta)
3 Jul — 18 Sep 2021
3 Jul — 18 Sep 2021
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), film still, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.
Obsidian Coast presents artist and filmmaker April Lin 林森's new feature-length two-channel film (Tending) (to) (Ta). The project marks Lin's first solo exhibition and Obsidian Coast's inaugural artist moving image commission.

(Tending) (to) (Ta) is a narrative-led speculative fiction film grounding itself in ‘tā’, the monosyllabic sound which in Mandarin Chinese encompasses all third person pronouns: 他 (third person male), 她 (third person female), and 它 (more-than-human lifeforms and objects). As these multiple genders and modes of being are all pronounced ‘tā’, the word ‘ta’ has in recent years been reconfigured and adopted as a gender neutral pronoun in colloquial contexts in Mainland China, in queer spaces and beyond. In the film, Lin casts ‘ta’ as an infinite cosmic entity with a proper noun Ta, who exists across universes and is present in all beings and matter.

The film follows an exchange of internal letters between two protagonists who imagine one another across parallel dimensions. Each communicating to an envisioned other, who exists as a possibility beyond their self-perceived boundaries of reality, these two beings meet in a shared world of imagination. In this reciprocal reach for the unknown, a world that bears an uncanny resemblance to our contemporary reality – colonised by Western capitalist constructs of race, gender and class, and characterised by a collective distance from Ta – opens a portal to another realm.

Here the potentialities of rethinking identity and the coexistence of life forms have long since been expanded. Subjecthood is recognised as fundamentally ever-changing, porous and codependent, and the accelerated rhythms of alienating wage labour are entirely absent. Daily routines stem from the interconnectedness of all beings, and encounters with the surrounding world are choreographed into affectionate, meditative rituals that not only honour these intricate bonds but also strengthen one’s affinity with Ta.

As the two protagonists confide in one another in search of connection and meaning, the boundaries between their two worlds become permeable. The film asks where the boundaries of our understanding and imagination are drawn, how to reach beyond them, and what unforeseen norms, restrictions or modes of governing might wait for us, if we were to leap across to the other side.

At Obsidian Coast, Ta greets each visitor at the gallery entrance with a sequence of hieroglyphic symbols that read: ‘Be my guest, rest as we become one, balance with me contentment and desire, leave with new perspectives afruit.’ The film is accompanied by large-scale textiles which bring our guests into Ta’s calming embrace, and a selection of books and zines framed as an emotional, intellectual and spiritual survival kit for the everyday by one of the film’s protagonists.

Film screening times:

Fridays: 1.10pm, 2.20pm, 3.30pm and 4.40pm
Saturdays: 11.10am, 12.20pm, 1.30pm and 2.40pm
Planning your visit:

If you would like to ensure that there is space for you to see the exhibition and film at a specific time, please book your preferred time slot by emailing info[at]obsidiancoast.art.

We welcome drop-ins any time during our opening hours but on busy days advance bookings will be prioritised.

This arrangement is in place to keep our visitors safe. Please find our visitor safety and capacity information here.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation view at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation view at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation view at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, Ta’s Obsidian Embrace: Onyx Portal (detail), 2021, Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation view at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation detail at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, From B to You, reading list for the Obsidian Coast Library.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation view at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), 2021, installation view at Obsidian Coast.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), film still, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), film still, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.
April Lin 林森, (Tending) (to) (Ta), film still, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.
April Lin 林森 (b. 1996, Stockholm — they/them) is an artist-filmmaker investigating image-making  as a site for the construction, sustenance, and dissemination of co-existent yet conflicting truths. They dream & explore & critique & fret & catastrophise & imagine & play with the potentials that the moving image holds — for a collective remembering of forgotten pasts, for a critical examining of normalised presents, and for a visualising of freer futures as, of course, imagined from the periphery. 

April Lin 林森 uses video as a self-reflexive and cathartic tool, interweaving strands of auto-biography, world-building, documentary, performance, and the post-Internet, topped off with an inevitable garnish consisting of the other matters dialoguing with their brain and heart during the making process of each piece. Uniting their genre-fluid body of work is a commitment to centring oppressed knowledges, building an ethics of collaboration around reciprocal care, and exploring the linkages between history, memory, and interpersonal and structural trauma. 

Their films have been shown and screened at, including but not limited to: the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, HOME, Royal Art Institute of Sweden, LA Filmforum, MADATAC, Botkyrka Konsthall, Arebyte Gallery, Konstfack, Camden Arts Centre, Beijing International Short Film Festival, Tunis International Feminist Art Festival, Floating Projects, Underwire Festival, Chinese Arts Now, Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival, NOWNESS Asia, and 4:3 Boiler Room.

Writing, Direction, Cinematography and Editing by April Lin 林森

Samiir Saunders
Puer Deorum
Clarinda Tse

Chantel Foo as Voice of Meditation Guide
April Lin 林森 as Voice of Ta

Assistant Producer: Obsidian Coast
Drone Operator: Sam Smith

Production Design: Puer Deorum
Costume Design: Puer Deorum
Production Assistant: Germane Marvel
Set Ceramics: Leda Yang
Assistant Production Designer: FeelBreezee
Hair Colourist: Sophie MacCorquodale

Composer: Valeria Radchenko
Title Illustration: Sai Tripathi

Song: The Arrow of the Deity of Love 愛神的箭 by Zhou Xuan 周璇

Much gratitude for your words of guidance: Amalie Smed Dawids, Chantel Foo, Himali Singh Soin, Jonelle Twum , Nella Aarne, Nicky Chue, Sam Smith, The Moving Image Group, Toto Roomi

Special thanks to: Deen Atger, Gilbert, Sea Life Centre London Aquarium 

Commissioned by Obsidian Coast

Lastly, a big dose of appreciation for all the leaves, branches, vines, stems, flowers, trunks, tussocks, roots, seeds, rocks, cliffs, streams, muds, raindrops, winds, almonds, jellyfish, sharks, and maggots for their crucial participation in this work.

This film is dedicated to all of us who have had very Real Relationships with Imagined Selves, Imagined Others, and Imagined Worlds. 
In 2019, Obsidian Coast invited proposals from UK based artists to produce a moving image project for a solo exhibition at Obsidian Coast in autumn 2020. The open call took as its point of departure the notion of the horizon. Constituting the circular parameter that determines the social, political and material conditions of our existence, horizons are boundaries that cannot be crossed and command realms of possibility. Bound to remain obscure, they pull us towards them as they infinitely recede. Yet rather than only representing the absolute, horizons are also malleable and contingent, and have embedded in them the potential of rupture. Obsidian Coast's inaugural moving image commission invited artists to reach beyond the horizon and expand the parameters of the possible.
This film has been generously supported by Arts Council England and The Elephant Trust with in-kind support from Ugly Duck and Obsidian Coast.