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The Multiple eXposure Project

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The Multiple eXposure Project is a multimedia, multi/trans/inter-disciplinary artistic practice and research-based initiative that explores the many layers of image-making, participatory photography, visual ethnography, and performative encounter(s) between the image and the spectator; the subject and the viewer. As what the name of the project implies, this endeavor is profoundly interested in the notions of the “multiple” and the “exposure” both in their literal and symbolic sense.

Firstly, The Multiple eXposure Project seeks to examine the multiple potentials of image-making or photography (digital and analogue; still and moving) as a medium, a performance, and an instrument of social engagement and (ex)change, and the overlapping of it with other disciplines. As part of its exploration, this project involves a series of visual, photographic or lens-based workshops in collaboration with non-profit, grassroots volunteer groups. The concept of the multiple is also applied under the framework of collaborative work – of bring together multiple individuals with multiple philosophies into a plurality of shared experiences.

Secondly, The Multiple eXposure Project is equally drawn to the idea of “exposure” (subjection, experience, vulnerability, coverage, documentation, and so on) in the process of socially-engaged image-making that exposes what needs to be exposed; clarifies the obscure; and concerns itself with a gamut of critical questions and discursive issues of representation.

Through image-making, we aim to expose and get exposed.

Public Interrogation: Outside the White Cube (December 1-31, 2015)

Public Interrogation: Outside the White Cube
Organized by The Multiple eXposure Project
Location: Public Spaces, Metro Manila, Philippines
Date: December 1-31, 2015

December 1-2 (8pm-10pm): EDSA Avenue cor. Kamuning Rd. Quezon City
December 5 (7pm-9pm): Ayala-Paseo Pedestrian Underpass, Makati City
December 13 (6pm-7pm): Alabang-Montillano Footbridge, Muntinlupa

Click here to view the Catalogue:

Public Interrogation: Outside the White Cube is an alternative, traveling, curatorial project that features image-based works across different disciplines and media by emerging artists whose works discuss the notion of the “public” and its complexities.

What is public? What counts as public? The “public” is a multi-layered concept defined differently depending on how the term is used and framed. It is a notion devoid of singularity and is, grammatically speaking, a terrain of contradictions. As a noun and an adjective, the public constitutes the people, masses or community, and suggests anything that is staged, accessed, or seen out in the “open.” The public can also be used as a verb to describe something one does, as in make public or publicize, suggesting the movement or shift from the inside (private) to the outside (public). Paradoxically, however, the same term also points to the limits of such openness and movement. Given that it simultaneously refers to something “involving and provided by the government”, the public is always at risk of becoming merely an apparatus of the sovereign state and its institutions, thus making the flow of its production, distribution, and consumption partial and counterproductive.

Public Interrogation: Outside the White Cube seeks to re-frame the practice of curating and spectating images outside the exclusionary, institutional borders of the “white cube” or gallery space. Public spaces are used as an exhibition site to stimulate a mode of spectator experience that revolves around displacement of the passersby (public) from their “habitus” by interrupting the flow of pedestrian traffic. We alter a familiar public space and transform it into an unusual, dialogic site for image projection and exhibition, taking advantage of its accessibility and site-specificity in order to redefine the ways the spectators look at and engage with images. Adopting “guerilla urbanism” as a curatorial strategy, we make sense of the immediacy of the “public” and reflect upon its context, meanings, and intersections with representation, place, and discourse. In so doing, we intervene and reformat aspects of the urban landscapes and emphasize the “counter-spectacle” in art viewing and appreciation. This project also underlines the inherent ephemerality of an open-to-the-public display in relation to time and space. As a “traveling” exhibition which heavily depends on projection technology and public space as its “frame” or “canvas", this project celebrates the momentary nature of image-viewing, consumption, and mobility in the metropolis at a time of constant flux and transition.

List of Works and Artists:

Video Arts
Borders - Anne Murray (USA)
The Separation Loop - Leyla Rodriguez (Germany)
Gnomonicity - Amitesh Grover (India)
36&71 - Anthony Stephenson (USA)
Sully - Marbella Carlos (Canada)
You See Davis - Rembrandt Quiballo (Philippines, USA)
Untitled (Sleeping People in a Train) - Hannah Reber (Germany)
Into the labyrinth - Geordy Zodidat Alexis (France)
The Safest of Hands - Clint Sleeper (USA)
Hunt/Find - Dani Salvadori (UK)
Leaving My Skin - Ellen Wetmore (UK)
Presence of Absence - Matt Lee (India)
Untitled – Mohammad Namazi (UK, Iran)

Still Images / Photographs
Right Time Right Place - Robert Rutoed (Austria)
Peripheral Strangers - Julie Dawn Dennis (UK)
De Staat (The State) - Maarten Tromp (Netherlands)
Ruinophilia - Anna Garrett (UK)
Circling the Square - Arturo Soto (Mexico)
The Spectator, the Viewer, the Observer and the Perceiver – Francine LeClercq (USA)
Magic Rooms - Carlos Collado (Spain)
Date of Consumption - Lita Poliakova
Street Photography - John Robert Luna (Philippines)
Walls - Elena Efeoglou (Greece)
Fitting Room – Megan Mace (South Africa)
Street art you can take home (for free) - Lorenzo Bordonaro (Portugal)
Victim – Solomon Eko (Nigeria)

Performance Videos / Public Interventions
Balloon Performance - Louise Winter (UK)
Somarts Mural Dance - Johanna Poethig (USA)
Unpatentable Multitouch Aerobics - Liat Berdugo (USA)
Disclaimer at Manchester Art Gallery - Laura Gower (UK)
Sustaintability – Dani Lamorte and Veronica Bleaus (USA)

Animations / Digital
Job Interview - Dénes Ruzsa and Fruzsina Spitzer (Hungary)
In Between - Sofia Makridou, Theodora Prassa (Greece)
Decadence of Nature - Olga Guse (Russia)
AsianGirl N40°42'54.488" W73°59'30.313" - Victoria Elle, Rocky Li, and Jennifer Mehigan (USA)

Get Featured in our Blog!
We are currently expanding the content of our blog and we would like to feature multidisciplinary/multimedia artists, photographers, image-makers, visual artists, performers, and so on, their portfolio, artistic practice, and research interests. The feature section serves as a virtual, archival gallery and a platform for free promotion. This call is open to all artists – individuals or groups; amateur or professional – anywhere in the world.

If you think your works are relevant to The Multiple eXposure Project, send your artist statement, sample of your portfolio, photos, videos, press releases, and other related materials to

Moving Still: The Multiple eXposure Project Zine 2.0

The sophomore issue of The Multiple eXposure Project zine has been uploaded! You can read the e-zine at ISSUU or download the PDF version HERE.

New media and video artists included in the publication are as follows:

Jessica Buie / Liat Berdugo / Laura Hyunjhee Kim / Nicola Hands / Tony Radin Jacobs / (c) merry / Talia Link / Justin Zachary / Adrian Errico / Matteo Pasin / Jean-Michel Rolland / Manasak Khlongchainan / Boris Contarin / Hüseyin Çife / Suman Kabiraj / Patrick Moser / Francesca Fini / Aaron Oldenburg / Benjamin Grosser/ You Qi / Dénes Ruzsa / Fruzsina Spitzer / Fran et Jim / Amelia Johannes / Heidi C. Neubauer-Winterburn / Jess, Lau Ching Ma / Scott F. Hall / Eleni Manolaraki / Elise Frost Harrison Banfield Jack Rees / Daehwan Cho / Wu Siou Ming / Masako Ono / Bárbara Oettinger

Editor's Note:
By Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo

I n this sophomore issue of the Multiple eXposure Project zine,“Moving Still”, we feature a heterogeneous breed of new media and video artists whose experimental and provocative works emphasize the potency of “videos” or “moving images” in the exploration and expansion of self-representation in the discursive flow of transmission and mediation – from the screen to the spectator; and the perceptive to the conceptual.

Selected artists here make use of the “screen” as medium and performance space. By displaying, curating, and performing in front of the screen, self-image-formation is enacted while relying on playful encounter with unknown spectators in order to weave different webs of interpretation. In this regard, the screen operates as an intermediary in the artist’s performance that brings connections to identities, personal narratives, history, everyday politics, and imaginaries.

The symbiotic relationship between the screen and the subject cultivates the construction of an image or spectacle that is consumed – temporally and spatially - in a doubling of intermediation. They deflect and reflect a plethora of shifting, hybrid pretexts about ourselves within the digital ecology where the delineating lines between the public and the private; the human and the mechanical; and the material and the virtual boundaries become blurred.

Given their hyperreal structure, these video performances, visual interventions, and recorded choreographies trigger a mode of mediated encounter that heavily manipulates moments of reality – of space and time. Intimacy and presence are concomitantly altered as these pieces can be incessantly scrutinized by the gaze of many anonymous viewers floating in the digital currents, allowing us to re-locate the individual and re-think about the concept of selfhood more fluidly.

Self-as-Subject: The Multiple eXposure Project Zine 1.0

We are pleased to announce that the very first issue of the Multiple eXposure Project zine is now accessible online! You can read the e-zine at ISSUU or download the PDF version HERE. Feel free to share!

Below is the list of contributors (artists and writers) included in the publication:

J.D. Doria / Dr. Sayfan Giulia Borghini / Aldobranti / Olga Sidilkovskaya / Ana Rita Matias / Anne Paternotte / Rudi Rapf / Leigh Anthony Dehaney / Laura Knapp / Jennifer van Exel / Derya Edem / Arushee Agrawal / Utami Dewi Godjali / Çağlar Uzun / Mahmoud Khattab / Noel Villa / Dawn Woolley / Teresa Ascencao / Kalliope Amorphous / Katrina Stamatopoulos / Gaspard Noël / Florian Tenk / Petra Brnardic / Sana Ghobbeh / Alonso Tapia-Benitez / Libby Kay Hicks / Agent X / Rina Dweck / Yoko Haraoka / Claire Manning / Pietro Catarinella / Anne Beck / Gabriel Orlowski / Ralph Klewitz / Anthony Hall / Alessandro Martorelli / Robin Gerris / Carol Radsprecher / Veronica Hassell / Daniela Olejnikov / Jayson Carter / Nathaniel St. Amour / Jonathan Armistead / Piotr Boćkowski

Editor's Note:
By Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo

"Who are you?” “Who am I?” “Who do I think I am?” “What am I made of?” There is nothing simple about such inquiries as they pose a number of phenomenological and ontological issues.

To ask yourself or someone about self-definition is to deal with its vicissitudes and fluidities, oscillating between the ego and the alter ego; the naturalistic (Hume) and the metaphysical (Kant); and the reflexive perception of one’s body and the relational introspection with the “Other.” The self is, arguably and fundamentally, a complicated subject matter. It is an ever-evolving object, a corporeal being, an affective body, a precarious entity, a discursive phenomenon, and so forth.

Divided into three interrelated chapters, this zine features oeuvres by artists and writers from different localities around the world and, as what its theme implies, is an exploration of the “self” and its manifold permutations – its presence, identity, representation, liminality, and (dis)embodiment - in this day and age of digitality, hypermobility, and hyperreality.

In Chapter 1, The Self as I/Other, authors reflect on the dialectics between the ego and the alter ego and the multitude of ways the “self-as-subject” is defined by both internal and external contingencies, or philosophically speaking, by the binaries – “I” vs. “not-I.” Many of these selected pieces are visibly entangled with the act of self-mirroring, which is inherently reflective and performative: it involves the constitution of subjectivities based on visual imaginary reflected on the mirror that does not necessarily resemble the complex structures of the material body. What I highlight here is the notion of self-perception (internal) in relation to one’s experiences and the (external) world. As Anthony Giddens puts it, “A person's identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor - important though this is - in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going. The individual's biography…cannot be wholly fictive. It must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing 'story' about the self.” (54).

In Chapter 2, The Fetishized Self, we see interconnected self-representations that examine the convergence of idiosyncratic fantasies with the phantasmagoria as an offshoot of the fetishized commodity. When I refer to the term, phantasmagoria, I emphasize the volatile strings of imaginations through which the public and the private dimension of identity becomes obscured, blurring the demarcating lines between reality and fantasy. This section functions as a provocation of the fetishization of self and the centrality of the individual as authority. Through role-playing, the self, as a fetish object imbued with power and discourse, becomes an agency displaying and interrogating the politics of gender, sexuality, identity, and bodily desire.

Finally, in Chapter 3, The Fragmented Self, the fragmentation of identity framed within the digital, virtual, or hyperreal context is explored. Featured works here represent the various modes the anonymity, simulation, multiplicity, and control in data superhighway allow the transformation of the self into fragmented, hybrid subjects. The concept of “self-fragmentation” also revolves around the nature of post-modernism: the absence of absolute truth and the presence of disembodied self.

Giddens, Anthony. Modernity and Self-Identity. Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity, 1991.

Featured Artists
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The Power of the Image from Performance to Photography

By Daniela Beltrani

"Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Introductory considerations on photography in performance art

I look at the succession of photographs. I linger over those taken in overwhelming darkness. They bring me back to some time in the late afternoon during a four-hour performance by Jason Lim on 14th December 2012, in wintry Venice, Italy. The memory searches for fragments, probably not accurate nor objective recollections, but ‘my’ recollections, distilled from that time, was once present and has now passed. All that is left in me are vague feelings, some photographs,[1] monstrous sculptures in yellow wax and mental images I chose to collate from the imprecise whirlpool of actions carried out by the artist in front of me.

A small and cold room is engulfed in darkness. A lighter is engaged decisively. A short and thin yellow candle is lit up. The face of a man appears. More candles are slowly lit up, their wax dripping onto five of his fingers until they stand, some crooked, some erect, and consume themselves. They generate more wax and in this process of dying, they produce tiny sculptures with the flowing movements of the artist. His left hand pulsates creating a dance of light, which illuminates and obscures him and the space, alternately. All along a camera clicks and its intermittent sound is heard distinctively in the apparent silence. Life is slowed down to the rhythm of a deep breath and its essence is distilled. The sparse audience appears on the doorframe and stands still and open, as if waiting.

Jason Lim, ‘Duet with Light’ (2012, Venice). Image courtesy the artist and Gajah Gallery.

Writes Russell Martin appropriately: “It [the photograph] is very good at reminding us, we who witnessed the event, that we were there and what it might have felt like to be there, through the distorting lens of our own memories.”[2]

And Susan Sontag goes on further to say:

“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality, understood as recalcitrant, inaccessible; of making it stand still. Or they enlarge a reality that is felt to be shrunk, hollowed out, perishable, remote. One can’t possess reality, one can possess (and be possessed by) images – as, according to Proust, most ambitious of voluntary prisoners, one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past.”[3]

Within the context of performance art, the above quotation is compatible with Peggy Phelan’s correct statement that “performance cannot be saved, recorded, or documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance.”[4]

The performance in performance art is born, lives and dies in a particular time and place, much like the human life cycle. It is ephemeral just like our life is, where there is no rehearsal. Once our life is extinguished, we survive as images, fragments or shadows, only in the memories of the ones we encountered or the ones who were meaningful parts of our life; in objects that carry the sentimental value of our presence; and in the photographs that portray us or link us to others.

The rest is dust, all too quickly forgotten.

And so, typically, the ‘other than performance’ can materialise itself in photography, video and relics5, and, not during the process of its creation, but at the moment of its completion, it does not concern the present but only the past.

More specifically, photography[6] from performance art is something other than performance. It is observed to possess one basic aspect, whose main purpose is to document the performance[7] and an incidental one, artistic.[8]

The photographs taken during the entire performance are typically and rightfully classified as documentation, a stream of factual images that are meant to capture the actions in perhaps significant moments9 from beginning to end with no intrinsic or uncovered artistic quality or purpose. These photographs are somehow subservient to the performance, separate in the sense that they are not the performance, yet they share with it an essential, perhaps distilled, contingent reciprocity.

If, then, the performance is a durational piece - whose length extends way beyond the familiar half to one hour, which many performance art events assign to each artist or collective for their presentation – it becomes evident how particularly difficult it can be to document all the actions, as a example, in extreme cases, they may be too numerous or taking place in different areas of the space simultaneously[10] or minimal. [11]

Furthermore, during performance art events, it often happens that other artists, do not necessarily have professional photographers taking the official photographs. Occasionally, members of the audience too spontaneously offer their photographs to the artist. These are often individuals particularly familiar with performance art and who regularly attend such events. Their eye may be trained and their sensibility may be enhanced with the constant, direct experience of performances. 

The photo-documentation, besides the positive purposes of confirming or calling to mind a sequence[12] or being the proof that a performance had taken place,[13] may of course run the risk of acquiring power in itself, either because of its paucity and/ or because the image extracted is remarkable under certain respects.[14] This power may be warranted or not, according to those who had the privilege of witnessing the performance. And thus, we may have the ironic case of poor performances, which somehow collected the legacy of a powerful image; or vice versa, strong performances, which left behind no image or only inadequate images. 

In our fast-paced, digital age, performance artists undoubtedly - besides an audience (or a crowd)[15] being present at their performance - rely heavily on images, more than on verbal or written accounts or video, to disseminate their work in an expeditious manner. Images of past works are often requested in response to open calls and in support of curriculums or profiles. The choice of effective images may be crucial in such cases, as it is for the artist’s website. Let it be noted that their power is not necessarily related to their excellence or high quality in terms of photographic technical standards. Other considerations take their place, particularly rawness, immediacy, honesty, authenticity and an overall ability to capture an intense moment when it is experienced directly. That intense moment is what Cartier-Bresson is quoted by John Szarkowski, referring to the decisive moment, whose “result is not a story but a picture.”[16]

The second, additional aspect of photography from performance art involves an artistic quality, which in turn gives the photograph itself the autonomous status of artwork.

Typically, whilst Lim is performing, he is drawn within himself. He is present to himself in time and space and his attention is solely onto himself and the performance being unfolded through him in front of an audience. And whilst he may respond to planned or unexpected opportunities for images to be created and presented during the performance, his concern never once rests with the photographers, neither does he pose.

Sontag aptly observes that “photographs don’t seem deeply beholden to the intentions of an artist,” rather they “owe their existence to a loose cooperation (quasi magical, quasi-accidental) between photographer and subject.” This quotation is perfectly applicable to photography engendered from a performance by Lim, where the quasi-magical and quasi-accidental cooperation between photographer and artist performing may manage to capture those live images and thus, somehow “enlarge a reality” and capture the past just witnessed.

The above mentioned artistic quality may be extrapolated by the artist himself, when he is presented with the documentation of the performance and may come to realise the power of certain images captured by the camera, which are deeply connected to the performance, yet somehow distilled from and independent of it.

It is an act of recognition not only of visual character, but of actual authentic essence behind the photographic image; an act of remembrance, of calling to present mind an awareness from the past; an act of re-apprehension of a memory concerning a state of being, an action, a fraction of the performance.

The artistic considerations may cover the recollection of the performance by the artist as subject and the observation of himself as object present within and without the frame of the photographic image, according to the parameters of beautification and truth-telling, which Sontag states history of photography to have struggled between. Or perhaps more poignantly - in a world where the image often hides a different reality – according to the parameter of unadulterated, genuine and truthful beauty.

Lim’s recent performance art practice (2005 – present) [17]

Lim’s performances, particularly from the series Last Drop or Duet, are journeys of discovery and encounter, where alternation of both powerful and weaker moments create an overall strong feeling in many who have witnessed them with an open mind, heart and soul. Perfection or flawlessness are not parameters for a successful performance in Lim’s practice. He does not build up the performance to a predetermined or expected result. He allows also what some may describe as failure, accepts it and explores it; he does not judge it, but considers it merely as an additional opportunity for more explorations.

In this respect, Lim confirms: ”A true performance takes place when the performer loses control, when he takes risk, when he situates himself at risk and he becomes the medium in the process.”[18]

There is no narrative to follow, no boundaries to push, no activism to deliberate on, no shocking element to digest, no apparent incoherence to decipher, no material to read into, no trickery to be astonished by, no controversy to consider, no concept to extrapolate: in Lim’s performances, it is all laid bare for him to uncover and for the audience to witness in a sharing encounter. In the artist’s words “what you see is what you get.”19 Materials are only opportunities for new journeys to share with each audience and for new experiences that can ease each audience into looking inwardly through feeling as much as thinking.

The appeal of Lim’s performance rests precisely in this openness, unpretentiousness, all-inclusiveness and ultimately, in allowing the audience to see and take what they choose to see and to take, according to their own individual subjectivity and/or aesthetic sensibility.

Often during Lim’s performances there are unplanned moments of pure, unadulterated, undefined beauty, which is distinctively captured through the instinctive side of heart and soul. It is a beauty in no way conceptual or cerebral or superimposed onto a preconceived idea. It is a fleeting shard or instantaneous image formed spontaneously. The artist may feel the power of that image from within and the audience may perceive it from within: I hazard that this image becomes the point of meaningful contact of the entire encounter.

In the artist’s words:

“The strength of performance comes from the visual imagery it presents. It is a visual art form. In every performance, the artist is concerned with the image created. The body used in the imagery adds to the power of the artist’s presence. To me, I am creating three-dimensional images in my performances.”[20]

At the moment, either our memory is unable to retain every single second of a two-hour performance or we are unable to extract each second from the overloaded pool of memory. Either way, ultimately it is not the pedantic, detached and objective[21] documentation of each instant in the performance or of each action by the artist that uncovers that perceived quasi magic behind the performance itself.

“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou’s quotation can be aptly applied to those charged moments from Lim’s performances.

It is, as Maya Angelou points out, easier and more poignant to remember what or how one felt. And so, perhaps, it is the ability and promptness to capture those charged moments. And in turn, such qualities are not necessarily related to the technical capability of a professional photographer nor to the “adherence to conventional standards of composition, framing, lighting, and so on,“22 but to the sensibility of an experienced audience or the serendipitous moment of an inexpert one. In fact, the power of such photographs may lie precisely in the technical imperfection of the image.

The intention is clearly not to merely document the performance, but to be ready for that moment. And with the consistent practice of performing and/or attending performances, the viewfinder becomes the focused mono-eye that has already removed distracting or unnecessary elements from the overall vision of the natural eye and is ready to take in whatever the coming together of artist and audience at a certain time and in a certain place has to offer. Szarkowski refers to it as Frame and explains: “The central act of photography, the act of choosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge – the line that separates in from out – and on the shapes that are created by it.”[23]

Susan Sontag writes: “At the very least, the real has pathos. And that pathos is–beauty.”[24]

For some, including the artist and myself, to capture this image of beauty with the camera is not a vain attempt. It often bears rewarding fruits. Those fruits, whether casual or intentional, are the carefully chosen images presented in this exhibition.

Coming together

The selection, made in concert with the artist, focuses on the most established and mature phase of his latest and still ongoing series, namely Last Drop and Duet, from performances presented in various parts of the world between 2009 and 2013. 

The isolated or composite images presented here aim to give a glimpse into Lim’s powerful imagery, which the audience of his performances can experience first hand and which the public attending this exhibition is invited to become familiar with and appreciative of.

The curatorial core of this exhibition hinges on a duplicitous intention: on one side, offering a variety of photographic possibilities of imagery within the artist’s aforementioned series of performances and, on the other, contextualising both series within the larger scope of Lim’s 20-year evolving practice in performance art and how Lim arrived to conceptualise those.

Both Duet with thread (red, 2009) and Duet with thread (white, 2010) were performed at the Padepokan Lemah Putih, in Solo, Indonesia, during the annual Undisclosed Territory event fellow performance artist and Lim’s friend Melati Suryodarmo has been organising in her hometown in Indonesia since 2007.

Jason Lim's Duet with Thread (2010, Indonesia)

The triptych from the first performance intends to create a tripartite vision of space and time by starting with the immersion of the artist and his action harmoniously within the natural environment and subsequently with his removal to concentrate on the striking indexical sign of his presence, the accumulation of red thread unspooled over several hours in the shade of a tree by the myriads of exposed roots. The first image focuses on the hourglass of green by grass and tree, contrasted by the copious light that, on the left side, holds the artist dressed in stark black and his material in powerful red. Lim is almost a secondary element, slightly blurred, to the tree, a fleeting addition to the environment, even in its extended duration into several hours. In the second image, the artist disappears completely only to leave the red thread over the rock and within the exposed roots, to encapsulate his past presence: the performance is concluded. The last image concentrates solely on the thread, in the middle of which light shines, revealing the intricate accumulation left by the artist’s action and the inexorable passing of time.

Repetition is a strategy Lim is familiar with, particularly within the context of his ceramics practice. It is the same and yet it isn’t and when it stops, it shows how its subtle variations affected the material, in time and space. In performance art,

Lim adopted the same strategy and, predominantly in many performances from his Duet series, did not resort to a climatic closure, but rather he pushed himself to keep the rhythm until he felt it was completed. The artist’s repetitive action affected time and space through the material.

The two individual photographs of Duet with thread (white, 2010) are of different quality. The head of the artist, dressed in black, is covered with the white thread that he had unspooled immediately prior and over an extended period of time, in two disparaged settings: the natural one, where the artist’s body stands tall and erect amongst the thin trees, almost under the power of the tension of the thread that holds onto the ground and amalgamates with the green grass; and the other, on the verge of semi-rural, a motorcyclist in the foreground, on the dark grey asphalt, is about to pass by the artist and is oblivious of him and the white thread that is now caught in free flow.

The real life setting of the performance, as opposed to a white cube or black box, reveals the possibilities for authentic and spontaneous engagement with the uncontrolled surroundings and the artist’s sensibility to respond to intervention (connection with grass) as much as to disregard (motorcyclist passing by).

In Last Drop #35, performed on 1st December 2010 in Bern - during the final leg of the 25th Anniversary tour of Black Market International alongside which Lim was invited to perform as guest artist - Lim responded to the heavy snowfall of the Swiss winter. Prior to his scheduled performance he exposed the chair with all 12 glasses, outside the Schlachthaus Theater. The snow fell silently and relentlessly into the glasses and onto the chair, until he felt he had enough material to work with. Poignantly, the set of 12 photographs does not show Last Drop’s main action, but the potentiality status of the material, sitting quietly on the chair and being lifted one by one by the artist’s right hand.

The images thus presented seem to encapsulate visually the essence of Lao-Tzu’s chapter 48 from the Tao Te Ching: “The pursuit of learning is to increase day by day. The practice of the Way is to decrease day by day. Less and less is done until one reaches non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. The world is led by not interfering. Those who interfere cannot lead the world.”

Two additional yet separate images display again the glasses: the first, in a line on the floor of the theatre, some still full of snow, some already full of water, a status quo pregnant with innumerable possibilities. In the second, dramatic image, centre stage, under a spotlight, is the solitary chair surrounded by darkness and a myriad of glass fragments. The action is kept as a mystery and the absent artist may leave the viewer to fill in the gaps with the little that is left of it, but more importantly may encourage him to consider the desolated beauty in the sense of stark abandonment and completion of the entire scene: to consume life, to create action, to change the status quo, to actualise the potential is to cause inevitable destruction.

More Last Drop follows, from Seoul on 18th October 2011: the four images show details of the artist’s actions at poignant, sometimes fleeting, moments. The colours again, as in the Bern performance, are contained within the darkness of the space and reduced to a blending of hues between warm skin and raw wood, white saucers and clear glasses. 

The first two images can be viewed almost in immediate succession: in one the artist’s right hand is caught just after dropping one glass into another, causing shards from the second to flee in all directions away from his body and breaking the surrounding blackness. In the successive image, the viewer catches the artist in the dual act of holding and looking at the two glasses thus conjoined. His contemplation brings to mind the image of Hamlet holding Yorick’s skull and offering considerations on the theme of vanitas. Thanks to the photographic tools’ relentless advancement and refinement,25 sudden changes, which the eyes are naturally not able to detect, can be presented to us at critical junctions, whilst poignant moments can be frozen, distilled and extended in an illusory and artificial permanence.

In the third image the artist’s face is split in a duplicitous reflection captured within the water of the identical carafes, in a poignant disparity. The perfection and transparency of the common material shines in the foreground like a polished, yet distorting mirror.

The simplicity and paucity of material only go on to highlight the artist’s essential presence as opposed to his simple actions: his being is materialised in his actions, the result of a succession of extemporal choices. His partial head almost caught as an unimportant detail at the bottom right corner of the frame of the last image is the gentle presence in the imbalanced juxtaposition with what appears to be left, or implied, of his previous actions: a pagoda-like construction of glasses and saucers, which emerge from the blackness of the background, a solitary glass appearing, upright, as the only obstacle between the two sides of the frame. The artist seems to be considering the construction beyond the field of vision of the frame, perhaps reflecting on its precariousness. Following his gaze in an upward diagonal line and then down to each single element of the pagoda-like structure, the viewer may finally come to realise that the glasses, bar the last one, are indeed full of water, but they are astonishingly and magically, upside down.

In the heavy and hazy air of Beijing, in August 2012, outside the uninspiring performance space, a Spartan brick wall is the focused background for the artist’s

Duet with light with a candle placed at the other end of a long curved branch he had picked up nearby.

Concentrating the attention onto the central section on the wall, our peripheral vision captures, on one side, the artist in profile, without consistency, but in the perfect flatness of a drawing and, on the other, the intricate branch as a series of lines against the blurred light.

The end of the branch finally pointing to a darker shade of wetness on the damaged and distressed cement floor, in varying degrees of grey; the artist’s presence implied. Simple distilled actions fill time and space until these disappear from consciousness, from our being in the present at a certain time and in a certain space and live in a perpetual vacuum.

A different, more dramatic Duet with light takes place in December 2012, in Venice: two images capture the effect of the artist’s actions with short yellow candles on his surroundings, a cold, naked room with white walls and engulfed with darkness. They display shadows of parts of his body, unexpectedly enlarged in a dark aura, or as multiple ghostly appearances, drawn on the wall. They seem a duplicitous reminder of Plato’s cave imagery: equally enthralling, reality and shadows are both exposed for us to choose which one to concentrate our attention on, without any predetermined preference.

Two other images show the artist’s head emerge from the overwhelming darkness behind hands that become living, macabre candelabra, a memento mori of sort.

In one his face is covered by the luciferous hand, behind which a partial, staring eye, fearless and fearful at the same time, looks directly at the viewer. Whilst in the last, frightened or withdrawn, the artist, looking down, seems to shield himself with the light. Both are portraits of unusual and dichotomic quality, of fragility and intimidation, of escape and confrontation.

In the final Duet with light, from a performance presented at The Substation, in Singapore, during the penultimate R.I.T.E.S. event in May 2013, the constructions of familiar short yellow candles on the artist’s hands become a pair of two-dimensional candelabra in a desperate attempt to shine light in the surrounding, but clearly unable to even uncover the rest of the artist’s body and seemingly losing the fight with darkness, their dramatic, unyielding presence emerging desperately from the pool of black in disparaged configurations.

The selected compositions of this overall powerful imagery evoke a meditative quality to the performance. And in fact, coincidentally, candles are amongst the most prevalent objects used in the yogic Trāṭaka meditation, aimed at stimulating the ājňā chakra positioned in the brain, behind the area between the eyebrows: the sitter fixes his attention onto the candle flame and its halo and stares at them until the eyes start watering and they need to be shut: the after-image stays impressed until slowly it fades away, the eyes are then opened and the process is repeated one more time. The darkness is so overwhelming that no distracting elements can interfere, not even the implied body of the artist.


I sincerely hope that the diverse visual journey into an exclusive type of artistic photography from Lim’s performances - corroborated by an insight into the development and evolution of the artist’s performance art practice – has offered the public in Singapore the opportunity not only to become more acquainted with

Lim’s artistic language other than his more prevalent ceramics practice, but also to appreciate more recent and yet to be fully explored possibilities in photography from performance art.


1  Refer to pages 104 to 107 of this catalogue. 

2    Russell Martin, “You Had to Be There,” Interval(le)s II.2-III.1 (Fall 2008/ Winter 2009), http://www.cipa. (9 July 2014). 

3 Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Picador, 1977), 163. 

4 Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: the politics of performance (London: Routledge, 1996), 146. 

5 I have initiated a discussion on relics in Singapore with the exhibition Reliqvarivm I curated in 2012 and which was part of the Future Of Imagination 8 programme. Catalogue available upon request. 

6 I am here considering photography from live performances and not that type of photography where the performance artist ‘poses’ especially for the camera to create an entirely controlled image, as Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero did in 1915 with a photo performance of his cynical laughter; or where photography is an integral part of the work itself, as Vito Acconci did with 12 Pictures (1969) and Three Frames Studies (1969). It is here worth mentioning two exhibitions in the U.S. which presented interesting perspectives of the relations between performance art and photography: Camera/Action: Performance And Photography, held between 15 October and 23 December 2004, at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College in Chicago, and Staging Action: Performance in Photography since 1960, held between 28 January and 9 May 2011, at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York. 

7 More correctly, Russell Martin notes that “Instead of documenting the event, however, we always end up with a document of our experience of the event,” in Russell Martin, “You Had to Be There,” Interval(le)s II.2-III.1 (Fall 2008/ Winter 2009), (9 July 2014). 

8 Currently, at the Singapore Art Museum, as part of the year-long exhibition Medium At Large, from 25 April 2014, Melati Suryodarmo, a fellow performance artist and friend of Lim, has selected photographs from the performance Exergie – Butter Dance (São Paulo) exhibited, as the brochure reads, “as artworks in their own right.” 

9 Allan Kaprow, already in the 1970s, acknowledged the risk that a performance would be reduced to a series of isolated images and participants, aware of the presence of the camera, might end up purposefully posing. For further reading, please refer to Judith F. Rodenbeck, “Foil: Allan Kaprow before Photography,” Benjamin H. D. Bucholoch and Judith F. Rodenbeck, Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts-Events, Objects, Documents (New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 1999). 

10 As for example in the performances of the Estonian collective Non Grata. Please refer to David LaGaccia “The Raw Side of Performance Art,” (10 July 2014). 

11 I would like to mention American performance artist Marilyn Arsem, who on 21 April 2013, during the event Near Death in Boston, moved two glasses from the nearer edge of a table she was sitting at to the further opposite, over a period of seven hours, as recounted to me by the artist herself when I met her in Helsinki in November 2013, and as found in Hannah Harris, “Performance Artist on Mortality: “Edge” and “Near Death”,” soulful-expressions/performance-art-and-death-edge-by-marilyn-arsem (10 July 2014). 

12 As in Sophie Calle’s The Shadow (1981), where the artist had “her mother hire a private detective to follow her for a day and document her activities.” Martha Buskirk, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art (Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, 2003), 221. 

13 For an interesting reading on different considerations photo documentation may engender, including examples from American artists of the 1960s and 1970s, please refer to Martha Buskirk, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art (Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, 2003), 211-259. 

14 As the most appropriate example for this case I feel obliged to mention Carolee Schneemann’s Interior Scroll (1975), which I have come to know about through descriptions from texts, but even more so from a particularly strong image of the naked artist reading a text from a scroll she is unrolling, in a phallic upward curve, from her own vagina. 

15 For an interesting reading on the difference between audience and crowd, please refer to Lee Weng Choy, “Comparative Contemporaries: A Presentation by Lee Weng Choy,” Asia Art Archive in America, org/programs/comparative-contemporaries-a-presentation-by-lee-weng-choy/ (24 July 2014). 

16 John Szarkowski, The Photograher’s Eye (The Museum Of Modern Art: New York, 2007), 10. 

17 For a brief history of Lim’s entire practice from its beginning in 1994 to the present, please refer to my additional essay in this catalogue, at page 32.

18 Sarah Lee, ed. At Home Abroad, exh. cat. (Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, 2009), 51.

19 Interview with the artist, 3 June 2014, Singapore.

20 Sarah Lee, ed. At Home Abroad, exh. cat. (Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, 2009), 51.

21 I italicise the word because I do not believe a documentation is wholly objective, but it always underlies a subjective presence, since it is carried out by a human being at a certain time in a particular place.

22 Philip Auslander, “Towards a Hermeneutics of Performance Art Documentation,” Lessons in the Art of Falling, ex. cat., ed. Jonas Ekeberg (Horten: Preus Museum, 2009), 93.

23 John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye (The Museum Of Moder Art: New York, 2007), 9.

24 Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Picador, 1977), 102.

25 John Szarkowski cites the interesting example of the galloping horse, whose legs for centuries had been drawn or painted inaccurately, due to the human eye’s incapacity to break down the animal motion at a more sustained pace, until Muybridge in 1878 established the truth behind it. John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye (The Museum Of Moder Art: New York, 2007), 10.


Auslander, Philip. “Towards a Hermeneutics of Performance Art Documentation.” Lessons in the Art of Falling, ex. cat., ed. Jonas Ekeberg. Horten: Preus Museum, 2009.

Buskirk, Martha. The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art. Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, 2003.

Harris, Hannah. “Performance Artist on Mortality: “Edge” and “Near Death”,” Seven Ponds (blog), posted 14 July 2013,

LaGaccia, David. “The Raw Side of Performance Art.” Hyperallergic, posted 22 November 2012, http://

Lee, Sarah, ed. At Home Abroad, exh. cat. Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, 2009.

Lee, Weng Choy. “Comparative Contemporaries: A Presentation by Lee Weng Choy,” Asia Art Archive in America, accessed 24 July 2014,

Martin, Russell. “You Had to Be There.” Interval(le)s II.2-III.1 (Fall 2008/ Winter 2009), C.I.P.A., accessed 9 July 2014,

Phelan, Peggy. Unmarked: the politics of performance. London: Routledge, 1996.

Rodenbeck, Judith F. “Foil: Allan Kaprow before Photography.” Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts-Events, Objects, Documents, eds. Benjamin H. D. Bucholoch and Judith F. Rodenbeck. New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 1999.

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: Picador, 1977.

Szarkowski, John. The Photographer’s Eye. New York: The Museum Of Modern Art, 2007.

About The Author

Daniela Beltrani (b. 1968, Rome, Italy) is a professional independent curator and performance artist based in Singapore. Classically educated in Italy, she holds a Master of Arts in Contemporary Asian Art Histories from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. Daniela curates visual art exhibitions and performance art events. She also writes for art publications and catalogues.

 In June 2011 she set up a performance art platform by the name of S.P.A.M.

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