The installation Spice reflects on the histories and peculiarities relating to fictions of authenticity specific to the area surrounding the Ludlow 38 gallery space in the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Spanning theatrical tourism of staged opium dens in Chinatown in the 19th and early 20th century and more recent events, Spice looks at how histories of colonialism correlate with prevailing assumptions of purity and intoxication.
The exhibition, resembling a shop that specializes in the sale of obscure packages of herbs, is centered around a pegboard display of colored pouches mirroring those of synthetic cannabinoids, which were legally available in stores until their use became criminalized in the mid-2000s. Lin draws inspiration from the original packaging of K2 and Spice, which used cartoonish and flashy graphics to solicit juvenile consumers. However, in lieu of an ingredients list, on the back of Lin’s pouches is a fragmented and non-linear science fiction text, written by the artist, about a viral epidemic resembling addiction, narrated from the point of view of the virus that travels from host to host.
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