Maya Lin, “What is Missing? Empty Room,” 2009, Multimedia installation (video, sound, glass), Dimensions variable. Shanghai Himalayas Museum installation view, 2017


Designed by Maya Lin as her last memorial, “What is Missing?” creates awareness about the current sixth mass extinction of species through science-based artworks. Among the multiple possibilities for its production the Shanghai Project presents “What is Missing? The Empty Room;” Lin’s exemplary installation skillfully blurs the boundaries between the two and three-dimensional.

Videos in “What is Missing? The Empty Room” not only show endangered species, but also natural phenomena that people may not realize are disappearing. It connects these to critical environmental issues, asking us to stop for a moment to think about the air, land, and oceanic migratory corridors of birds, animals, and sea life that are at risk.The video works also trigger intimate memories about nature from sounds of the ocean to the visibility of the stars at night.

“What is Missing? The Empty Room” is a wake-up call, as well as a call to action. It shows us how we can help protect and restore the nature that we have lost or will be losing in our lifetime. The installation prompts us to reimagine our relationship to the natural world, showcasing how we could live in ways that balance our needs with the needs of the planet. It does this by providing examples of what is already being done around the world to make these ideas a reality, thereby giving us plausible future scenarios for a sustainable planet—most importantly it provides people with the much-needed feeling that it is within their power to make that change.

Maya Lin’s acclaimed work encompasses large-scale environmental installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural projects, and memorials. Her artwork interprets the world through a twenty-first century lens, utilizing technological methods to study and visualize the natural environment. In her sculpture and drawing, Lin merges rational order with notions of beauty. Blurring boundaries between two- and three-dimensional space, Lin sets up a systematic ordering of the landscape tied to history, time, science, and language. The 2014 recipient of the Gish Prize for her contributions to art and social change, Lin has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions and created outdoor installations for public and private collections from New York to New Zealand. She is at work on her final memorial, What is Missing?, raising awareness about habitat loss and biodiversity. Born in 1959, Lin holds degrees from Yale and the Yale School of Architecture. She has been represented by Pace since 2008.