Wayne Wang-Jie Lim, Singapore / Netherlands

Residency Period: August 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017


Bio

Incidentally conceived in China, raised in Singapore, Wayne Wang-Jie Lim is an art practitioner working and living in Amsterdam. Since 2009, he had exhibited and presented in shows at various venues, from the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICAS), Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (CCA), to the Singapore Art Museum. He was awarded the Winston Oh Travel Research Award in 2013 for a research in Hong Kong, a writer-in-residence at maumau Art Space in Istanbul, Turkey in 2015 and most recently part of a research-residency project co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the EU, called “Understanding Territoriality” at Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, Italy.

He is currently pursuing his MA at the Dutch Art Institute as a recipient of the Non-EU scholarship grant from ArtEZ Institute of the Arts. His current inquiry focuses on geopolitics, language, philosophy and history in relation to art and hence, experiments with formats that are not the conventional, such as, travelogues, thinking and the writerly.

URL: waynewjlim.com Instagram


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

During his BA studies, Wayne was drafted into the army for mandatory military service that brought a two-year halt to his “practice” — he practically made/produced nothing, and participated in a few minor exhibitions for which he only showed old works he had done in school. Instead, he read a lot, and in retrospect, “prepared” for his final year after his obligatory service ended. This was the first time he questioned what an “artistic practice” meant.

When he returned to finish his degree, he could no longer make art in the way he used to, and his production shifted to a focus on researching and writing, making strategic plans on practicing at the fringe of what can be called “art” before spending only a short couple months at actually producing the “artworks”. Though a national arts body has funded his projects and exhibitions, he is not recognized officially as an artist under the institutions’ national framework of what constitutes artistic practice. This simultaneously “insider / outsider” state has further led him to his current research.

As Wayne begins his hiatus, he will also be working towards his graduate degree, where his thesis-research explores the notion of “non-position/location”. He feels that this timing will prompt him to really ask himself how he could “nourish” himself and re-strategize his artistic practice in order to benefit from the artworld’s infrastructure/institutions but not be subsumed into the wider agenda of neoliberalism and nationalistic rhetoric as a contemporary art producer or a cultural and knowledge producer. He hopes to investigate alternative modes of art production with an ultimate goal of infiltrating the arts market from the peripherals while being completely non-positional and ambiguous. Or practically, what he has to do in order to survive as an artist in a way that will also afford him a comfortable living -- and not like a "poor artist".

During his residency at RFAOH, he primarily wants to spend time on brooding over the function of his “art” and his “practice”. He plans to use the stipend “for nourishment” by purchasing books and organizing a reading group, putting food on his table, paying for his website domain, buying a hashtag on his Instagram account, paying an exorbitant amount for a VIP ticket to an art fair to look at art-for-sale, etc. He also plans to routinely write and perhaps finally learn how to use Instagram to “market” his non-art/borderline art activities.


Final Report

What do I think about when I don't think? As I round up my last few beautiful days in the outskirts of Seoul before I have to head off to Beijing to reunite with my family for a well-deserved vacation, a defiant North Korean missile was fired at 6am this morning, and it landed in the sea not far from Hokkaido, Japan. While the US is conducting its 'regular’ — often unapologetic — military exercise with the South Koreans military, I am sitting here opening, closing, and reopening this report, contemplating — or even procrastinating — about I can possibly write.

“What am I doing here?”, is a question I routinely pose myself. I now wonder if my relentless pursuit of the never-ending “here’s” is perhaps too disruptive. In the same vein, I can’t seem to know where I want to be; except knowing where I do not want to be. It’s an excuse I sometimes use to cover up my escapism. On a different note, while noting the political context of the Korean Peninsula (or the nature of conflicts), I have been rethinking the difference between presence and occupation. It questions not just the essentialism of identity and place — if not nationalism, and the rhetorics of the nationstate — how else and what other ways to justify the existence of being/the conception of statehood. Where is the “inside” and/or the “outside”?

A year ago, I applied mainly with the intention to understand my own practice, and perhaps to find a “direction in my life”, in regards to being simultaneously, an "insider" and an "outsider" of where I come from. The combination of my trajectory at the Dutch Art Institute and RFAOH have certainly pushed my practice into a more theoretical, and political direction/place. With that in mind, it is, therefore, important to think, and employ strategies that bring about higher agency in one's (artistic) practice. Although my initial research premise relating to my thesis have changed — from a "non-position/location" to the "hyperrestrained order" — it nevertheless helped me to understand better my position or role (and even the escapism), and my relationship with the state (Singapore), that changes from being a citizen, a soldier, to an "artist" (as an occupation). I have seen this process as a crucial development — as a theoretical inquiry, and the understanding of the previous — in relation to my art practice. During my hiatus, I have learnt to bring research-traveling-writing to the forefront of my practice — not entirely inclined to the notion of producing artworks as the 'only' way of art-making. Ironically, I believe this journey — of art and life — will/can never truly be on a “hiatus”. If one is practicing life (thinking about Tehching Hsieh's talk), can we say or consider art as the medium of life, while life never stops, and art nourishes life?

The “here” now is post-hiatus. I am excited about what Beijing can I offer me, as well as what I can learn from this potential move. “Post-hiatus” is, so to speak, actually getting over an ex-lover, and confronting some fears I had the past couple years; anxieties and insecurities, where I don’t just ask myself the purpose of my existence at a physical location. It is about living through it, making decisions even if I won’t be liking it, whether its on life, art or love.


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recent comments

On Jul 1 2017, Wayne Lim commented on Back to Life: Hi Shinobu, you're right! Thanks for reminding me about the positive things! And, I am so glad we go[...]

On Jul 1 2017, co-director(s) commented on Back to Life: Congratulations Wayne for finishing both school and RFAOH residency!!! (How ironic that is ;P) You [...]

On Apr 10 2017, Wayne Lim commented on Touristing the United States/But Let's Call This an Airport Rating: Oh I can't imagine how much worse it could get in the snow storms! It's a good lesson. I should alwa[...]

On Apr 10 2017, Lee commented on Touristing the United States/But Let's Call This an Airport Rating: This is terrible! I have a love/hate relationship to travelling. I do most of my air travel in Canad[...]

On Apr 2 2017, Wayne Lim commented on From Brussels to Mechelen, Mexico City to New York City: @S No discussion needed (it is exactly how I described it "pseudo-work-study-trip" :P)!! Hahaha! But[...]


The Outsider-Insider

I think it is inevitable that I often delve into this ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, or ‘local’ and ‘foreigner’ topic since I’m living in Amsterdam right now. However, it was only recent that I have accepted that I am a moving body and I have un/subconsciously ‘performed’ this displacement over the last years residing in Singapore. 

I was hit hard with this confrontation while in Bandung with the DAI last October. Later on, I wrote an essay titled, #ILEFTMYPDFSOMEWHEREBETWEENSINGAPOREANDINDONESIA: Locating Geopolitical Identity Displacement and the Act of Locating, uncovering my own doings and trying to understand my position from this displacement. Moreover, this oxymoronic title illustrates the missing point pretty darn well; as arts and cultural producer, our work is still very much location-bounded — despite the supposed convenience brought by technology — and this only means that time and space will be redefined over and over again. 

But let’s put the ‘art’ aside and talk about how do or should people deal with this transition of time, space and place? Its easy to put a finger on globalization after many places have/had benefitted from this system and these places have since gave rise to forms of ‘localism’ — with some being extremely right-winged and many becoming to be as such. “Our” political system and society is not ready to take on the transnational (cultural) identity that globalization have brought us to. The idea of the nationstate is built based on the fact that it is a body that can keep and protect its people within a border and therefore to ensure the existence and ‘conceptual notion of survival’ of a particular group of people. This modernist project have now of course expanded to be something with a ‘darker side’ and this ‘darker side’ is ensuring the ‘basic needs of survival’. 

I was thinking about these issues while having a conversation with a friend/artist-colleague from Singapore about how she only feels happy when she’s away from Singapore. I told her that that feeling or conception is a total misconception because you can also feel unhappy elsewhere. One fact also remains for her, she has never lived anywhere else other than Singapore. If returning to Japan a few times a year and can renew your ‘happiness’, then you can keep doing that and retain your ‘unhappiness’ in Singapore. While I’m not saying that if she’d live in Japan, she’d also feel the ‘unhappiness’, I’m simply saying that we humans constantly pick out good and bad things from the places we live anyway but whether we ultimately can like and choose to live at a place depends very much on our own psychological navigation of a place. Or, it can be deduced to how we choose to psychologically deal with a physical space considering the dynamics and patterns of the city, interaction (both human and spatial) and these factors often changes the personal, psychological and emotional perception drastically. 

Truth is, it will always be hard for Singaporeans to live anywhere else (I’d love to elaborate on this at some point because this is altogether another topic itself, dealing with governance and management). 

~~~

 

Here I copied part of our conversation:

Me: How do you think in Singapore, we consider a ‘foreigner’ a local? 

Friend: When they get a PR (Permanent Resident status) or our citizenship.

Me: Ya but that is state/modern-nationhood rhetorics. I meant on a ground level. 

Friend: When they can speak our language?

Me: I bet that there are tons of people who has our citizenship but still retained their culture. Should we allow that? We should, right? Considering that we’re a nation that empathize and ‘tolerate’ such (cultural and religious) differences. 

Language (if referring to Singlish) is a very complex tool that Singapore uses but it is also the thing that creates that division of this ‘local’ ‘non-local’ phenomenon. Is Singlish (colloquial Singapore English) our language? 

Friend: No la. Not like this — perhaps it’s like we can behave and speak the way that we feel comfortable to one another? I don’t know how should I put it.

Me: Singapore is ‘doing great’ in terms of cultural ’tolerance’ and in fact better than any country on this planet but not transparent enough I think. (I have the impression Canada isn’t too bad given their liberal views on immigration but I haven’t been there or know that much to say). 

~~~

I think I need to read more otherwise I keep getting these ‘thought blocks’ that’s not helping with my writing. Although rfaoh is really giving me a great reason and space to write and read more. 

Understanding the world through Civilization V: playing the Netherlands.
Understanding the world through Civilization V: playing the Netherlands.

I decided to also post an extremely rfaoh-appropriate photo of what I did yesterday. I composed most parts of this post the day before, read a bit of Walter Mignolo, drinking, then finally playing Civilization V and drafting a logo for my handmade leather goods business on etsy. 

Here’s a link to the store: wayfarerworkshop.etsy.com

And follow us on Instagram?

I’m gonna give everyone here the ‘better’ discount code [FRIENDZONE] — 25% off, so show some love if you can? I’m still going through the rebranding phase at the moment and I need help with the logo, and also language translation from English to any of these languages; French, German, Italian, Japanese, Dutch. I’m doing this to support myself because as I mentioned before I’m running low on funds and might have to withdraw myself from the DAI and return to Singapore before end of this year if money doesn’t come into my bank account magically (just kidding). Well, I want to simply avoid taking more loans, especially not from the banking institutions. 

Ciao! 

Leave a Comment (5)

Wayne Lim wrote on Sep 26:

Hey Marisa,

That's my gut feeling as well; mankind has yet to evolutionize to that stage of being able to deal with the change of time and space in such a short period of time. Today, we are dealing with displacment, rootlessness, placelessness, detachment, etc., 'finding freedom in the lack of attachment' is definitely one of the plus.

It's two sides of the same coin, one can feel equally at home in a different time and space versus one who's not able to feel at home due to the different time and space.

Being about to see that freedom is great!

marisa dipaola wrote on Sep 26:

Hello Wayne, it's funny about being an outsider... You are a part of your new surroundings and also apart from your surroundings. I've always felt that way while flying: that my mind makes leaps it normally wouldn't, free in a way it normally isn't. My husband told me of a saying that your soul can only travel as fast as a camel, so when we travel by modern systems, our soul takes days (or weeks) to catch up to our bodies. I'm not sure where our minds are during this transition, but it seems that people who love traveling enjoy this disconnect, finding a freedom in the lack of attachment. (I know I appreciate the time to reflect on the changes more abstractly!)

co-director (s) wrote on Sep 14:

Here's something for you Wayne! Our ex-resident Kelly has just launched a new Contemporary Craft Programme she worked on as her on-hiatus project last year, as a department chair -- http://residencyforartistsonhiatus.org/uncategorized/congratulations-kelly-for-completing-your-on-hiatus-project/

I'm sure she might have lots to say about Etsy and "crafters" and your comment!!

Wayne Lim wrote on Sep 7:

I guess the definition or notion of "making art" or "art-making" has a really wide spectrum! But you got it, etsy sellers only look like artists — not artists — more like cheesy titles like; artisans, crafters, woodworkers, etc. Jeff Koons with his fame and popularity as an artist, selling his sculptures on etsy rejecting gallery representation would be a different story, isn't it? I'm still trying to find out the top 5 countries of etsy's sales.

co-director (s) wrote on Sep 7:

Jeez, are you not making art if for Etsy? Everyone looks like an artist on Etsy. (PS- I've also just read Etsy made 2.4 billion in merchandise sales in 2015)