Clara Lim: On Re-Appropriating Art (With Consent), Capitalism And Mansplaining 

To paraphrase George Orwell, if there's hope for the future, it probably lies with the next generation. Cynics may dismiss this as the rosy idealism of youth but hey, that can invigorate the imagination like nothing else. We spotlight seven up-and-coming Singapore students from different artistic disciplines whose works make us dream once more.

Here, we talk to Clara Lim, a 25-year-old moving image artist and designer currently majoring in Visual Communication at NTU School of Art, Design and Media.

What is the Clara Lim aesthetic?

Since 2016, I’ve been sticking to the hue of Purple (#DF00FF) out of pure aesthetics and the fact that it is my favourite colour. It has grown into a more subtle act of isolating from the noisy Instagram feed. Influencers seem to have adopted a more sephia, faded look and I wanted to move away from that. Subconsciously, this act seeps into my work as well.

What materials, mediums and techniques are typically used in your works?

I relate greatly to Vaporwave culture and it is deliberately anti-copyright and satirical of capitalism. I tend to look for creative commons and remix work rather than creating them. It is very controversial and most creatives who don’t understand it will conclude that you are just lazy.

However I truly cannot comprehend that we are all sitting on our own image archive of 40,000 photos on our iCloud and go through dozens of 1TB hard drives. All this is noise and digital pollution. If recontextualised and reappropriated with consent, this digital archive is a gold mine and where I go to for source material. As for physical installation, I tend to look for upcycling and crowd-sourced communities for furniture, it is always a fleeting moment to see the works being torn down, allowing them to be handed over to another member of the society - that completes my process.

We’re Good is a mixed media installation that served as Lim’s commentary on mass consumerism. Utilising found furniture and household appliances (including a microwave that’s older than Lim herself) and “decades of furniture commercials”, it comments on the social and environmental repercussions of a society overtly conditioned to throwing things away – all outfitted in her favourite shade of purple.

What would you say are common themes in your works?

Social commentary on consumerism and capitalism.

Who or what inspires and informs your work?

(I was greatly impacted by the packaging) of this snack called Jubes Nata De Coco my mother bought from NTUC. In my late teens, realising the packaging was designed by (local design outfit) Kinetic almost ten years ago and finding out concurrently that the branding identity of the 2006 Singapore Biennale was done by (Singapore agency) Werk left a last impression on me to make work that speaks for the community.

More recently, women creatives like Izyanti and Iffah (from Fellow), Amanda Tan, Hafizah Jainal, Vanessa Ban, Racy Lim and Amanda Ang have really generously shared their knowledge, field of work and shaped my growing career.

 What is the biggest challenge facing your field?

I hate to use the gender card, but most days it is really a gender thing. Every time I set up my installation or do my sound check, at age 25, I face getting mansplained by older male veterans. I usually just try to be nice out of respect, and learn from some of their mansplaining because most times, your video card can be quite a b***h when it doesn’t work with your projectors. The moving image artist and commercial VJ scene is largely male- dominated, and you tend to see their names circulating at every other event. I am very grateful to be taught by a woman, and empowered by fellow woke male allies so far!

How do you think you can contribute to your field?

I refuse to hoard knowledge, it is a concept capitalism has wired us to have by using the term “survival of the fittest” or “alpha male”. Truth is, nature thrives on symbiosis and the alpha wolf male concept is fake news.

Any upcoming projects you'd like to share?

I have a couple of interdisciplinary collabs coming up with female artists later in the year. Being part of (fashion and art collective) Why Not? has been quite an inspiration, to see fellow artists of our era and generation working so hard together to make a better environment for creatives. So definitely look out for that!

This article first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of FEMALE. 

This article is originally published on Female Singapore.

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