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[...]


From Brussels to Mechelen, Mexico City to New York City

I’m writing from Mexico City airport, with a rum and coke. Feeling somewhat ambivalent about this trip. From Brussels, Mechelen to Mexico, I find myself trying to process the past 3 weeks of pseudo-work-study-trip. 

Brussels was a semi work trip that proved fruitful with my coming presentation at Arc Residency in Switzerland this summer with André. Mechelen was a mix of voluntary obligations with e-flux live coverage of Contour Biennale 8’s symposium. I left Mechelen super stressed about my thesis. 

Mexico was a relieve from Amsterdam, honestly, but the roughness, the disorganize-ness brought back the stress. Daytime felt extended, the heat in the day was demanding and the chills at night created too much discomfort as well. 

In Oaxaca, we (DAI-Casco-Crater Invertido) got involved with the actual construction of the residence of Lugar Comun. Which was fun as hell and a great hands-on learning experience on building a residency “from scratch”, as well as understanding the organizational aspects of running a residency program. Upon returning to Mexico City, we (DAI-Casco group) finally got our shit together for a community-radio broadcast on the 25th in collaboration with Crater Invertido and other partners on radiolibre.co. We had segments that ranged from interview discussions to songs and experimental noise. I presented my segment almost entirely in terrible Spanish (except for the opening lines), reading a subchapter titled “Zapatista’s Theoretical Revolution” by Walter Mignolo that lasted torturously long (for an hour) after much encouragements from colleagues from Crater Invertido. At some point I actually hated myself for doing this radio-performance, making people listen to me for an hour in badly translated English text into Spanish. However, the idea behind is really to expose the reality of a “(post) colonial assumption” of how everyone should be speaking English — overentitled-ness of that expectation. The subchapter of Mignolo’s text itself explains very much Zapatistas’ political strategies in Mexico in the light of decolonization theory, which then brings Zizek’s critique on Singapore and ex-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew into Mignolo’s argument. The crossover of decolonization theory and role, double translation sort of reveals this complex power structure behind economic strategies of nationstates and (crisis of) identity. Anyhow, my segment was well-received and it feels like there is actual potential in developing this work. But for now, I’m going to have to prioritize on my thesis in order to graduate in time!

My segment for #106.1 #southernwave #radio Spanish in English. Reading #waltermignolo #thedarkersideofwesternmodernity

At some point I actually hated myself for doing this radio-performance, making people listen to me for an hour in badly translated English text into Spanish. However, the idea behind is really to expose the reality of a “(post) colonial assumption” of how everyone should be speaking English — overentitled-ness of that expectation. The subchapter of Mignolo’s text itself explains very much Zapatistas’ political strategies in Mexico in the light of decolonization theory, which then brings Zizek’s critique on Singapore and ex-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew into Mignolo’s argument. The crossover of decolonization theory and role, double translation sort of reveals this complex power structure behind economic strategies of nation-states and (crisis of) identity. Anyhow, my piece was well-received and it feels like there is actual potential in developing this work. But for now, I’m going to have to set my priority right, on finishing my thesis in time for graduation. 

During this two weeks in Mexico, I had a bad stomach, fever, my sinus returned, got sunburnt and starved way too often (lost weight). Still, I must say I enjoyed very much despite tensions and some discontentment. Perhaps, only started enjoying a wee bit too late! I miss those guys at Crater Invertido already, to be honest, and it feels like there is something to accomplish there although I have no idea what yet. 

For now, I look forward to reclaiming my Singapore identity by visiting Chomp-Chomp, a Singaporean diner in NYC. 


Further reading: 

Walter Mignolo, Geopolitics of Sensing and Knowing: On (De)coloniality, Border Thinking, and Epistemic Disobedience.

Leave a Comment (3)

Wayne Lim wrote on Apr 2:

@S No discussion needed (it is exactly how I described it "pseudo-work-study-trip" :P)!! Hahaha! But for real though! Honestly, it is also making networks and it is quite at the peripherals of artmaking. Let's not forget that we students, paid for this trip and not forget the sources and the flow of funds. It is hardly artmaking.

@M I completely agree! I think we often take it for granted.

co-director (m) wrote on Mar 29:

You're a busy man for someone on hiatus, Wayne.
Thanks for these links though; I'm curious about a lot of Latin American art which, as an English speaker is sadly off my radar. English speakers are indeed the laziest language learners but ultimately we lose the most in the end.

co-director (s) wrote on Mar 29:

This is another post that makes us want all of us to get together and discuss each of our idea/definition of "art practice" / "artmaking" or "being on hiatus from making art" -- How obsolete these rhetorics (and even actual ideas) are (:

 


Going/Leaving

Nearly a month ago, I spoke about mental illness, depression and the discontent revolving around working as an artist. Most recently, renown Chinese photography Ren Hang took his own life at the age of 29 and Mark Fisher, the author of book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? committed suicide, battling with mental illness as well. The title of his 2009 book almost desperately illustrating the pessimism, extreme hopelessness and despair of a pervasive economic order that humans of our times can’t seem to get out of. I vaguely remember Mark Fisher but it is shocking to know that Fisher was at the opening seminar called “Did You Feel It?” organized by the Dutch Art Institute on September 2016 in Eindhoven. 

To experience the departure of someone is always difficult, especially if that person is valued or influential to one. I guess going/leaving is a notion that no one likes to deal with, as one would only get repeatedly hit with the actuality of nihilism. I just arrived in Brussels, will be going to Mechelen on Thursday, Mexico City the following week, Oaxaca, then New York City and Washington D.C. before returning to Amsterdam again. This is likely the last major trip during my stay in Amsterdam — the last going. I am currently trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have more or less decided (after weighing out the pros and cons) to leave Amsterdam after I graduate. 

I have the assumption that I will “work full-time” as an art practitioner after I am done with my studies. Although I have pretty much gotten used to the idea of going the past couple years, I realized that leaving is a completely different ball game. I figured this will be the third “leaving”, of something/someplace/someone and leaving is never easy. Sometimes I wonder how much suffering can one take? When does a person’s mind officially leaves (the self/body)? Could madness be located? And no, I don’t mean the psychiatric clinics, asylums and mental institutions. I mean, how much madness do we have in a contemporary society where everyone tries to conform? Is arriving at madness a kind of leaving? 

I am suddenly reminded of the book that greatly influenced me, Arthur Schopenhauer’s On the Suffering of the World. In addition, at moments of his life, he reflected on the relationship between genius and madness and how memory mediates the blurry line between sanity and insanity.

Is the act of constant questioning the only madness in life?  

Leave a Comment (2)

co-director (m) wrote on Mar 9:

Wishing you the best Wayne. Its always the smart ones, who seem to suffer most. Artists especially as we must contentiously negotiate/balance the pointless with the indispensable. Travel can be a great anodyne though, to physically shift perspective, to take in new vistas/ideas and to realize there are always alternative possibilities. Be well, keep us posted.

co-director (s) wrote on Mar 8:

I'd like to comment more about it after looking at your links but the most recent shock for me has been Mike Kelley. That was clearly one of the moments that confirmed some of my thoughts on life and art and life and the world. We'll keep going on with this one, whether it is madness or not. And have some tea and a cake and hiking and a sport match in-between. Take care and have a great trip! - Know many are envious. (:
(I AM, I'm sick of sitting here)