Wayne Wang-Jie Lim, Singapore / Netherlands

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


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.




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[...]

Paying for Errors

This is going to be somewhat a ranty post because I’ve been rather stressed lately because of the symposium I’m about to deliver in Yogyakarta.

What a familiar space; I feel like it is a merge of my studio and my mom’s studio.

I started my DAI week pretty good as I’ve been hired as a freelance craftsman at a leather designer bag brand called Maria Jobse. The ‘interview’ went really well, we immediately hit off, Maria and I think quite similarly in terms of worldview, work ethics, life patterns and so on. I would be able to start working around January which is great because that is about the time I would really hit the bottom of my bank account. So the job part is settled. 

On the way to Arnhem.
On the way to Eindhoven from Amsterdam.

The following day went completely haywire. I don’t know how to describe it and it was also beyond comprehensible. I had sufficient sleep but I woke up uneasy and super intense knowing I’ve yet to finish my paper. I was pondering over comments on my paper made by Moonis and also discussions surrounding topics of art and social change, decoloniality and modernity in class, headed by Nick Aikens, Charles Esche and guest, Will Bradley. 

The story began when I left my phone on the hostel bed that morning, I returned to find my phone untouched. Then, I thought I might be too late for class, so I decided to take a bus to the center. I checked out of the bus when I got off and headed towards Van Abbemuseum. When I arrived, I realized that my wallet was missing. Panicking, because the class was about to begin, I thought I must have just misplaced it. When the class ended, I tried to trace back the route I took early that morning but I had to just accept that I have lost my wallet. Aldo (a DAI schoolmate) helped me to purchase a new ov chipkart (the transport card in the Netherlands). 

Back in Arnhem, I went to the bank and they told me that I cannot take out any money because I don’t have my passport with me. The ov chipkart office did not allow me to block my card because I could not provide the address that my card was initially sent to, which is the address of a graduated DAI student, Sebastian who had moved to the U.S. While trying to contact him on Facebook realizing that it was still early in the morning on the east coast. I saw a message containing a picture of the cards from my wallet!! And it was sent at 9am in the morning but filtered because I have no connections with this person, Talal Fayez, a Palestinian. 

I have never been in such chaotic situation in Holland.
Trying to calm myself down during the walk to Tala’s house.
Maarheeze, 40mins south of Eindhoven.
The winter sun.
Talal cooperating for a picture.

I called him and thanked him, then he said that he cannot speak English and knows a little Dutch. I passed my phone around to Kim and later he said he speaks Arabic. Mira spoke and arranged a meet up for me and I was beaming at that point because I had also spoken to a staff from the international office on the consequences of losing my Dutch residence permit-ID). The damage would be over €300 to get my card replaced. After much chat, it was finally decided that I would leave to meet him right away, which was in the town of Maarheeze, 45mins south of Eindhoven. This was when the horror began, all my trains were disrupted and/or delayed or simply too full to get in — all of them. I wasn’t the only victim, at least 2 trains full of passengers were waiting to board and most of them were going to Eindhoven airport. Many of them must have missed their flights. I managed to get into one train with an American couple beside me trying to catch their flight, frantically trying to check the next connection from the next destination. 

I suppose this is what a typical Dutch surburb looks like.
Passing by places I would never return to again.

Arnhem to Eindhoven is a simple one-hour journey with a transit in Den Bosch. Due to the disruptions, it took me roughly 3 hours including 20minutes of walking, to Talal’s house in Maarheeze. During my journey, Talal was messaging me asking me where I’m at, making me so anxious and stressed. At some point, I even regretted making this trip because I could very well get my cards replaced but because I’m leaving the Netherlands in 3 days, I had to return to get it. Upon arrival, this kind soul invited me to his house, made me sit down, wanted to charge my phone that was at 1% and wanted me to stay for dinner at his house. He called his friend who was able to speak English to translate what I had to say to him. At that point, I was wanted to return to the DAI. I felt so rude to reject him over and over again and he was very very persistent. Later, he even walked me to the bus stop.

Train-dashing Americans whom I chatted and shared a bad day with.

I was tired, battered and hungry. (Again) I could not get on the train I was supposed to when I arrived in Eindhoven so I took the chance to get myself a Burger King meal. I finally managed to fill my stomach, got on the train with the remaining food. Right before the train departed, the American couple whom I stood beside with dashed in and saw me sitting there munching. We looked at each other and started sort-of laughing and exclaimed, “oh god, this is not happening”. They sat down and I offered them fries. We exchanged stories and really started chatting away. They were going back to Nijmegen since they missed their flight and I was returning to Arnhem, which was the stop before. We really exchanged our stories, talked about education, philosophy, economy and American politics and it was such a great conversation. We were so glad to have bumped into each other and kind of mutually comforting each other after such a terrible day. 

Without Aldo’s free student subscription ov chipkart, I would have spent more than €60 just to retrieve my wallet, which would have been cheaper to really have my cards remade (€7.5 for bank card, €11.5 for ov chipkart, €15 for gym card). When going towards Maarheeze, I was also illegally using the 40% discount for joint travels, cause I was alone. I used Aldo’s free subscription for the bus ride since the chances of getting caught was slim to none. Of course, whatever it is, I got my wallet back, I’m gonna try to minimize the damage by submitting a refund request from the train companies for all that disruptions. I left the DAI at 2:30pm and returned at 8:30pm, completely missing the first class of Casco. 

I have since returned to my stressed mode, trying to finalize my paper that I have to deliver on 29th in Yogyakarta. In a strange way, I am ‘glad’ to be stressed, as compared to what I had gone through that is still beyond my comprehension. 

Signing off from Arnhem, I will report from Yogyakarta next week, after the Equator Symposium

Leave a Comment (4)

Wayne Lim wrote on Oct 31:

Yes, really glad I got it back anyhow! Oh I can only blame myself. I'm usually super careful but shit happens!!

Lee wrote on Oct 28:

I feel your pain Wayne.
Sometimes it feels as if nothing can go right! I am glad you got your wallet back and hope you are feeling better!

Wayne Lim wrote on Oct 27:

If my life is art, I wonder when am I really on hiatus then. :O

co-director (s) wrote on Oct 26:

This is incredible, Wayne. You are not making this up, are you? And I truly love that you are now hired as a freelance craftsman at a leather designer bag brand. Your life is art.


Looking for Moneys on the Internet

My curiosity to know is causing me dollars. I’m not the earning moneys like I’m supposed to. Not that I have to but because I’ve been told that way (I believe many people too); going to school equates to privilege, getting higher education guarantees job(s) and financial security/stability. Good news though, I’ve been selected to present a paper at the Equator Symposium in Yogyakarta, Indonesia end of this month and I have decided to also return to Singapore as I figured that I am not going to ‘work for free’, in fact, at my own expense. I admit to feel a bit bitter about not being (fully) funded to go to Indonesia but despite that, there are so many pros for going since I can really spend a bit of time there to do research and network that can really bring about future good. Most important, returning to Singapore to stall my financial difficulties in Amsterdam; I’m going put myself to work while I’m back (like work that actually pays and has nothing to do with my practice). 

My recent obsessions of certain subjects of interest have also led me to obsessively looking for money on the internet; scholarships, research grants, project grants and travel funds. One inevitably starts realizing how much knowledge production is dictated by granting institutions through a set of frameworks (from god knows where). 

Lately, I am really interested in China’s new Economic Silk Road, where I see it as China’s attempt to return to its former glory. The ancient Silk Road was what connects between the East and the West through the harsh and inhospitable plains of Eurasia. The pioneering innovations such as the printing press and gunpowder found their way to Renaissance Europe. Western academics and scholars (especially the Americans and British) have been particularly critical of China’s new plans. Let’s call them Sinoskeptics. The unjust and biasedness of these Westerncentric academics and scholars are truly disgusting. I’m not siding China here (and you’ll see what is the main gist of this post). Some Sinoskeptics think that this is China’s blatant attack on the world order established by the United States through imperial motives and dominations, without considering the intrusiveness of current world order that is currently in place. 

Yang Rui in this interview was speaking to Wang Gungwu, a prominent scholar from Malaysia currently teaching in Singapore and Australia and has been an ‘expert’ on the Overseas Chinese diaspora. With the way Yang frames his questions, allowed Wang Gungwu to immediately point out the inequalities of global institutions such as, the IMF, United Nations and so on, suggesting how China is continuously sidelined and oppressed by these institutions that have never thrived to be equal in their conception. And of course, this is what CCTV wants their viewers to hear. Yang, being an extremely prominent and popular TV host in China on the state-own channel, he often highlights the unjustness of the West. Furthermore, using a very particular set of vocabulary and language to constantly perpetuate notions of Sinocentrism and attack Sinoskeptics that is now becoming excessively propagandistic. 

Shifting the focus a bit, but still on and in China, this is the “Third World 60 Years: The 60th Anniversary of Bandung Conference”, Hangzhou Forum, moderated by Chen Kuan-Hsing and Gao Shiming, organized by the Inter-Asia School. The reason why I’m drawn to this is because having met Hilmar Farid last year, I learnt a lot more about Indonesia’s history and the legacy of the Bandung Conference. Now the Director General of Culture at the Ministry of Education and Culture, Farid (in his presentation segment) came with a rather unique point of view; calling for the redefinition of the ‘nation-state’, promotion of transnational collectivity conversation. Although he did not explicitly drop the idea that we should ‘forget about Bandung’ but he did put forth the more urgent questions regarding the state affairs and the role of the state. 

Through the roundtable talk, we can see that the ‘Bandung Effect’ did fail; the interactions between the speakers were not profoundly engaging, although all of them made valid points in respect of the interconnectivity between Asian, African and Latin countries 60 years after the Bandung Conference in 1955. 

So I’m thinking about starting off my paper/presentation, A Political Grey Space: Decolonizing after Dewesternization, with what Farid (and many other critiques) had mentioned about the ‘failure’ of Bandung. How is dewesternization and decolonization taking place at the moment. And finally introducing notions of ‘ambivalence’ and ‘ambiguity’ as a method and transition to post-state thinking/imagination in the context of decoloniality. The ideas of ‘ambivalence’ and ‘ambiguity’ here is extremely applicable and already happening in Indonesia and is something countries around the region should learn from. 

It’s brewing, it’s coming… 


Articles written in English by Hilmar Farid

Leave a Comment (6)

Wayne Lim wrote on Oct 27:

Interesting! How did that happen?

co-director (s) wrote on Oct 26:

Here's Farid and I talking about RFAOH together in our own languages ^^: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjPJHsEVtvc We're sure it'll all be good (particularly if it's not art ^^)

Wayne Lim wrote on Oct 14:

Well, I initially had plans to stopover in Jakarta for a couple of days but since my flight back to Singapore is covered I thought I shouldn't spend extra money (having too much fun) in Jakarta. And yes, Farid and I first met last September in Eindhoven, then again in Jakarta during the biennale. He's a (guest) tutor at the Dutch Art Institute.

Thanks! I'm a bit nervous and stressed to be honest! If I was actually producing stuff, I will definitely let you guys know.

co-director (s) wrote on Oct 13:

Wayne, I was thinking after reading this that you gotta meet our ex-resident Farid Rakun in Jakarta on the way to or from Yogyakarta, but he just told me that you guys have already met -- is that true? I knew the "artworld" is small but guess so is "artist-on-hiatus world". Good luck with your presentation, which we take is not "art practice" (;

Wayne Lim wrote on Oct 11:

I suppose exported cultures often take on different shades and meanings in the guise of capitalist marketing.

I think the context I'm trying to draw here is that we often feel Westernization is a given, or a norm even though some of these 'changes' or 'alteration' are sometimes really subtle. Having (just) traveled in Japan, I understand that Japan is "highly Westernized" but as compared to Singapore for example, the degree of Westernization is more serious because there was no 'original' culture or I should say, the colonial narrative had completely overwritten pre-existing culture and history. I don't like making food comparisons but since you brought it up; KFC in Singapore hardly has any changes. In fact, KFCs in Malaysia and Indonesia (and I can't recall if Philippines and Vietnam too) sell rice as part of their main menu but not in Singapore. McDonalds many years ago was selling nasi lemak (a local Malay delicacy eaten mainly in Singapore and Malaysia), and for some reason they discontinued it. We have curry sauce that comes with the McNuggets.

And a side note about this 'food comparison', in Europe these 'fastfood' Asian food are also by default Chinese food. If you go to "Indonesia restaurants", they are 'Europeanized'. I was in Lisbon and I saw a restaurant named, "Buddha Sushi". Then, I thought, what the hell has Buddha gotta do with sushi. That's like going to Asia, finding an Italian restaurant named, "Jesus Pizza Place". So I have doubts about the inverse. The fetishization is real. Plus, it is almost pointless trying to identifying all the differences...


Here's a post by Kevin Slaten, where he managed to pinpoint some 'issues' of Westernization but completely missing the core notion of Westernization; which is the economical-political drift towards using methods of/from the West, eg. free market, 'democracy', participation of the UN, IMF and so on. I will go on and give a couple of solid examples of Dewesternization moves; AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) and BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). These are attempts to operate outside of the current world order led by the United States.

I looked at Homi K. Bhabha but not Bourriaud. I will look it up!

co-director (m) wrote on Oct 5:

Interesting. I'm admittedly under-read on dewesternisation or decolonization but I always think about Japan and how they import aspects of a foreign culture they find fascinating but always re-configure it to meet Japanese sensibilities. Like the ebi(shrimp) burger at McDonalds; or pizza with squid and kombu, or these rockabilly dancers who are kind of a Japanese caricaturization of the American 1950's teenager. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-ScMOs7kPk Similarly the "west" and western culture is hardly monolithic and is forever changing, and incorporating the cultures of the immigrants who move here. Its feels far more hybrid then a lot of identity politics cares to acknowledge. With respect to China, (and Russia) we see these post cold war communist states take to capitalism like ducks to water but with their own authoritarian 1 party spin. While western governments have been equally quick to adopt Chinese methods for cracking down on dissent.

I wonder if you have read much Homi Bhabha; or Nicholas Bourriaud's book on Altmodernism. I'm curious your thoughts on their ideas on these topics with respect to globalisms impact on art and culture.