Mizhuang: Your work Color of Memory invited different people to enter into the artwork. Did you have any special criteria for the people you chose?


Lin: The people came from different backgrounds, different professions, different genders and different ages. I asked them the same three questions, all about their most painful memory.


Mizhuang: This is very interesting. You asked them to use a special way of recognizing and transferring their private memories.


Lin: Right. First they transform an abstract memory into a concrete object, then transform it into an abstract color.


Mizhuang: Their answers came to directly form the content and methods of your artwork.


Lin: Right. The narrative and transfer of information was theirs, and then I, as an observer, used the colors they described to paint an “object” that they described as having a close connection to their memory. I rendered and transformed their information.


Mizhuang: I noticed that you intentionally separated the sound and visuals in the narration videos. All of the people recounting their stories alone, when they stare into the camera and slowly speak; it feels calm and real, with no glossing over. The sound of their narratives is stiff; you rendered it into a staccato style, with each word being hammered out one at a time. To be honest, it really hit me.


Lin: Each segment is very severe, sorrowful and hesitant. The pain seems to belong to the speaker, and has been compressed into an unknown corner, where hidden wounds cause constant disruption. But in the recounting of this pain, it gradually separates and exists outside of the speaker, away from the pain of the experience. To recount the past is to create anew. Its realness shocks us, to the point that we almost don’t dare to face its realness. Pain can alter our normally numb state, but it can also make us grow number. This is a paradox. One person grew up under the shadow of his dead older brother. This brother, who he has never seen, perpetually hovers over every road he must cross. In the face of death, he is superfluous, imperfect, unreal. This painful memory has overshadowed him for thirty years, never fading away. When I asked him the second and third questions, he said: a medicine bottle full of pills. White, an extremely pale white. I believe that what shocks you is not the pain itself. Pain is not about individual experiences; it is about natural philosophy.


Mizhuang: Have you compared these different experiences?



Lin: I don’t look for the differences between these painful memories, I look for their commonalities. Extreme pain and grief are often caused by abandonment, sickness and death, or even abstract fear of one of the above, worry about potential danger and its unpredictable arrival. Through recognizing pain, we recognize all life, recognize our shared fears, desires, earnestness, control and balance. We face the fact that fear can never be truly avoided, face the fact that hopelessness can come out of nowhere, face the fact that pain magnifies our fears, doubts and weaknesses.


What matters is not what kind of pain we experienced. What matters is: what does that pain bring us? What does the most frightful pain we experience turn us into? When faced with enormous pain, what do freedom, dignity, even our lives mean?


--- what is your most painful memory?

I once had an older brother who died of an illness at the age of six. For many years, my mother was unable to escape the shadows of this tragedy. She placed his picture in every corner of the house, and spoke often of every little detail of his life. Though I was also her son, I would never be perfect enough. For a long time, I was an ignored replacement. The boy in the picture was timeless and perfect, but I, here in reality, was a disappointment, full of unacceptable shortcomings.

Because of this, my relationship with my mother was full of tension and unease. Many years later I realized I was constantly trying to please her, striving to approach her standards and become what she liked. I couldn’t even face the real me. This also affected my attitude towards the people around me. I tried to please them just as I tried to please my mother, seeking out security, love and friendship through pleasing people. This is the most painful part of my memories. It led to depression and a pain that lasted for thirty years.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

A pill bottle full of pills.

--- What color would you use to describe this memory?

White, an extremely desolate white.

--- what is your most painful memory?

About seven or eight years ago, when I found out that my girlfriend’s former boyfriend was diagnosed with HIV, I went to the hospital to get tested. The test results took several months to come back. Those months were a time of fear and pain.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

A bed

--- what color would you use to describe this memory?

Green, deep, dark green, the color of olives



--- What is your most painful memory?

When I was twelve, I was sexually assaulted.

I ran home to tell my mother.

I remember she was ironing clothes at the time.

I told her what happened,

including some details I didn’t want to tell,

what that man had told me,

what he had done to me…

He was an old friend of my parents.

The whole time I was telling her this,

she never stopped ironing clothes,

and never looked up at me.

At the end, she told me,

coldly: sometimes children misunderstand the actions and words of adults.

When it happened, I didn’t feel like I had been hurt,

but many years later I finally realized that

this was my most painful memory.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

An iron

--- What color would you use to describe this memory?

Grey, like the color of dust.


 --- What is your most painful memory?

Fifteen years ago,

I took my three year old daughter shopping at the mall.

I spotted a pink one piece dress, which I had her try on.

It fit her well, and looked really pretty on her.

So I went to the register about ten meters away to pay for it. She was in front of the mirror, trying out various poses.

She was only out of my sight for two minutes, and I figured that she was still at the mirror.

But after I paid and came back, she was gone.

She had vanished.

I rushed madly through the mall looking for her. All of the mall employees helped me look for her, but I couldn’t find her.

For the first 5 or 6 years, I couldn’t believe it.

I always fantasized that she would suddenly pop out from behind a corner, looking exactly as she did that day.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

A small one piece dress with embroidered edges. It’s beautiful.

--- What color would you use to describe this memory?

Pink, the color of that dress.


--- What is your most painful memory?

My most painful memory is a dream I had. I dreamt that my father died, and in that dream, I was full of grief, and I woke up in pain. My father lived with me at the time, and when I woke up, I did something surprising. I walked to the room where my father was sleeping, quietly bent over, and checked to see if he was breathing. I didn’t calm down until I knew he was breathing normally. I wasn’t happy, just calm. I sat there in his room for about half an hour and then left.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

A face.

--- What color would you use to describe this memory?

Blue, like the color of a clear sky.


--- What is your most painful memory?

My father died in a car crash when I was six.

My mother was a homemaker, and we had always lived off of my father’s income. At the time, I had a four year old sister and a two year old brother.

My mother grabbed some luggage and took us to live

at the house of my uncle, my father’s younger brother.

But his wife kicked us out, and we had nowhere to go.

My mother led the three of us as we wandered the streets.

I saw a feather on the street, and I picked it up.

When I did that, my mother ran up to me in a crazed frenzy, snatched the feather out of my hand and threw it on the ground. I cried.

Years later, when I recalled this, I realized that it was a very painful memory.

I will never forget my mother’s face that day, so full of despair.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

A feather.

--- what color would you use to describe this memory?

Yellow, an old, mournful, deep yellow.


--- What is your most painful memory?

My first boyfriend left me for another girl.

It was very painful.

I saw them sitting together in the park, and that girl was leaning in close to him.

I felt like my heart had shattered.

I returned to my dorm room alone, and stared at a bright light bulb deep into the night.

When I finally closed my eyes, I thought I had gone blind.

The next day, my vision had seriously deteriorated.

The eye doctor said he had never seen anything like this in his 20 years of practice.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

 A light bulb.

--- What color would you use to describe this memory?

Green, a yellowish-green shimmering with yellow sparks.


--- What is your most painful memory?

During my college internship,

my teacher asked me to assist him in a surgery.

At first, the surgery was rather relaxed.

My teacher was working with so much ease, and I was full of respect for him.

About halfway through the surgery, the patient’s breathing grew short, and we immediately went into rescue mode.

I saw the patient’s heart stop, and my hands begin to shake.

After what seemed like a century, my teacher dropped his scalpel.

A living, breathing life had ended in a blink of the eye.

It turned out that there isn’t much distance between life and death.

After that, I decided to change my profession.

--- If that memory could be transformed into an object ,what would it be ?

A scalpel

--- What color would you use to describe this memory?


 --- What is your most painful memory?

One day ten years ago, I received a letter from

my husband’s lover, she told me she was

pregnant with my husband’s child.

She begged me to divorce my husband for the

sake of her unborn child.

I just got pregnant at that time, and in anger

I went to the hospital and got an abortion alone.

My husband was in absolute denial,

but we were divorced anyway.

Our trust was completely destroyed.

Even till today I still don’t know whether

the letter was true or not,

but that is not important anymore.

I have been single ever since,

it’s been ten years,

but I still think I can not move on from this pain.

--- If that memory could be transformed

into an object ,what would it be ?

Typewriter,the letter was typed out by a


--- what color would you use to describe this


It is dark grey,almost with a kind of green

and yellow.