Canal Projects is pleased to present the first New York solo institutional exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist Candice Lin, Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory (September 22–December 16, 2023). Co-commissioned by Canal Projects and the 14th Gwangju Biennale, the site-specific project replicates a lithium battery factory, continuing the artist’s ongoing research on globalization and trade networks, materiality, and labor.
Emulating a precarious site of manufacture, Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory features a large platform at the center of the gallery at Canal Projects, creating a vantage point from where visitors take on the surveillance gaze of a factory manager. Touching on a complex web of issues that relate to the histories of mass production, the installation focuses on the extraction and production of lithium––a mineral that powers global mass consumption and is also used in ceramic production.
On the ground, ceramic fermentation vessels are connected by tubing to six manufacturing workstations that are mounted with ceramic computers and time clocks, whirring machines, and flickering motion-activated lights. At each workstation, sound, video animation, and text narrate the fictional lives of the lithium sex demons. Their story is based on a short essay written by Lin, describing a sex demon’s quest to return from the dead to their lover in a lithium battery factory. Set among the fumes of soldering smoke, the videos depict the banality of an assembly line possessed with dreams and passions that refuse to die.
The story of the sex demon is a fiction that draws from various Asian myths and ghost lore, such as the Chinese hungry ghosts (èguǐ), Japanese shit-eating ghosts (gaki), and Malay penanggal that feast on menstrual blood. The demonic possession of factory workers has a basis in reality, as documented by the scholar Aihwa Ong. In Lin’s work, however, these testimonies of toxicity become entwined with a story of bodily desire in the spiritual world, creating multiple layers around labor politics, queer love, and the materiality of our contemporary world.