Eugenia Lim | installation view of ON DEMAND | 2019 | Gertrude Glasshouse. Photo: Christo Crocker
Nothing is neutral
I came to art-making via writing (poetry, actually). Each idea, project and work always begins as words; words that I find both expansive and limiting that are nevertheless rich with possibilities. Usually, once I settle on a title (or it finds me), this language articulates the form and shape of the work to come. Double meaning and wordplay gives me the scope to explore multitudes, pluralities, ambiguity and contradictions.
Collaboration and social practice has always been important to me, and this has continued to support and inform my work as an artist. My work with APHIDS (with Lara Thoms and Mish Grigor) challenges and supports me to work at scale, with conceptual and political rigour, humility and openness that comes from our combined identities across class, culture and sexualities; and to work collectively to platform and make space for the voices of women, non-binary, First Nations, people of colour, emerging and older artists in culture.
The 15 images you see here are taken from the past seven-odd years of my work. Reflecting, I can see that there’s been a turning outwards over this time; from an earlier, more personal exploration of Asian–Australian identity and my family’s migration in Yellow Peril through to projects like ON DEMAND and Artificial Islands that seek to understand work, labour, and class within globalisation, capitalism and the digital. The Australian Ugliness was a provocation: if architecture shapes us, then we all must have agency in this process of who we become. My work tends to begin with a question: how am I complicit in systems I don’t agree with, but nonetheless live within? My work is an attempt to understand my place in global systems – of inequity and solidarity – and a dialogue between my audience and their reality. At its most basic, my work navigates the tension between alienation and belonging on a personal and socio-political level.
I write this from my hallway, with my partner and child walking past and interrupting, my makeshift workspace during this pandemic which has pushed those of us who are able to be – inside. This present moment is one of extreme challenge and hardship, but also one of immense possibility for artists, writers, musicians, as ‘seers’ in the world. Now is a time for reflection and thoughtful, deliberate action, as people, citizens and as artists. For me those ways of being: who we are at home, who we are in the world, and the work we make as artists – are interconnected and inseparable.
Here’s to slowing down and making time and space for reflection. For me, slowing down time or being non-linear in my approach to time, is an important act – slowing time as a political act; as a way of saying: I don’t agree with the status quo. I want to imagine a different reality.