Instructions and programming for LESBIAN GULLS, DEAD ZONES, SWEAT AND T, an exhibition of work by Los Angeles based collaborators Candice Lin and Patrick Staff.
"LESBIAN GULLS, DEAD ZONES, SWEAT AND T. is a new site-specific project for Human Resources, taking the form of a foggy installation within a roughly framed wooden structure. Reminiscent of construction sites, the space contains various squatted objects— ceramics, hacked electronics, herbs, erotic texts, hormonal joints and greasy stains. The installation is organized in a loose hexagonal layout, referencing the chemical compound of benzene, part of a phyto-hormonal change that occurs during the aromatization of certain plants.
Filling the space, the artists have hacked commercial fog machines to vaporize homemade herbal tinctures into hormonal smoke. The common botanical ingredients used – such as licorice and black cohosh – are natural anti-androgens, a class of drug typically known for suppressing testosterone production in the human body. The installation of these fog-machine sculptures creates a slow forming cloud, enacting a potential intrusion of disruptive botanical knowledge, and proposing a cross-pollination and infection between bodies, ecosystems, and institutions.
Lin and Staff’s research and queer re-readings of botanical texts inform the foundation of the project, beginning with a consideration of how herbal treatments were historically associated with female social roles of healer, herbalist, and witch; and the transplantation and exploitation of plant knowledge through colonialism; its suppression, renaming and regulation. Within this lineage, the artists propose a non-binary queer exploration of hormone therapy and toxic sex, both seeking to pervert pollution and queer the possibilities of endocrine disruption.
Constructed from simple household and hardware materials such as fans, funnels, hot plates and aluminum roasting pans, the sculptural machines reference an unassuming auto-didacticism, wherein grassroots knowledge of both DIY construction and herbal medicine can be utilized. The smoke that rises from them points to the ways in which inanimate matter, and specifically ephemeral, shifting, and permeable matter, takes on human, biopolitical and necropolitical significance and effect.
Simultaneously empty and dense, dispersed and ingested, LESBIAN GULLS, DEAD ZONES, SWEAT AND T. invites visitors to lose the illusion of their bodily boundaries and float within the influence of a hormonal mist, suggesting questions of relationship and care, dosage and tolerance and inciting a dissipating redefinition of subjectivity and knowledge.
Available at the show is a new artist edition by Lin and Staff, produced by Closing.
Candice Lin and Patrick Staff live and work in Los Angeles, and have been collaborating since 2010. Their collaborative practice focuses on the queer potential of herbal practices and cross-species interactions. Their work has been shown at Gasworks, London; Teoretica, Costa Rica; Centro Para Os Assuntos Da Arte E Arquitectura, Portugal; 18th Street Arts Center, Los Angeles; and as part of Witchy Methodologies at the ICA, London, 2017 and the Serpentine Galleries’ Transformation Marathon, 2015. Candice Lin has had recent solo exhibitions at Gasworks Gallery, London; François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles; Artissima, Turin; and Galeria Quadrado Azul, Porto. Patrick Staff’s recent solo exhibitions include MOCA, Los Angeles; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; and Chisenhale Gallery, London."