We last spoke to artist Lim Charlotte about her amazing dress sense. Since then, this firecracker has gone on to live in Berlin, develop a new kind of artistic practice and hold her own solo exhibition. Oh, and did we forget to mention? She’s still a student at LASALLE College of the Arts. She tells us more about her solo show, her social media presence and about how vomit can be art. Intrigued? Read on.
On what she’s been up to since we last talked: Since we last met, I’ve continued to recklessly follow the ambivalence of my emotional instability – my hair has grown out straight and I’ve since permed it all over again. I’ve spent the last year purging a lot of anger and fear, meeting some notable characters and realising the importance of my family and friends.
On her first solo show, In Vain In Vanity: Seeing the bulk of my work that spanned 3 years of my practice in the same space was a really terrifying and wonderful experience, seeing how each muse permeated each work – I could give you a name for each piece and relate a specific emotional disposition I experienced, where their lives and mine collided the most intensely; I think I keep the best (most interesting) parts of people, I’m a hoarder of sorts – and as much as I allow people to become a part of me, they also become a part of my work.
On an artwork from In Vain In Vanity that she’d like to tell us about: all is vain and in vain, which was first conceived of in 2015. This is a piece that I’d forgotten about until talks of a solo show. It was a very cathartic moment when I cleaned up the edges and mounted it on a custom mirror/frame, a real full circle moment where I felt like I was done with my adolescent despondence.
On her collectors: They’re young. Some of them are artists, friends, artists’ friends and art collectors. Some are middle-aged – it’s quite varied.
On the “Louboutins” displayed at her exhibition: They’re actually from H&M! I just painted the soles with red acrylic! I can’t even afford those shoes.
On her very bold Instagram feed @charlythebicorn: I acknowledge that I have a loud and abrasive personality, but I don’t do it consciously. I try my best not to curate myself, however ironic that may be. My social media is just a very public diary, screaming into a void and waiting for an echo. There really isn’t a conscious effort to brand anything. I love performing – for myself, for anyone who’d watch really. I’m sure it’s got to do with my terrible memory, I feel a need to shout to make anything stick in my head.
On her turn towards performance art: This is From You to Me to You for Me was a test performance which took place at art school. Basically, I collected organic matter that resided on participants’ bodies and I ingested it, I kept it inside of me. I then purged it back out into a bottle where I could tangibly see and collect it. The vomit was pushed back down through a funnel to create tension. It’s the idea that maybe we can’t always fit these things nicely into bottles. The vomit wasn’t all liquid you see – there were cigarette butts, paper, a lot of hair, a lot of spit.
On LASALLE College of the Arts lecturer and artist Jeremy Sharma being in the video: He was the one who gave me the cigarette butt actually, knowing full well what I was going to do with it! I loved that about him. I plan to proceed from this by having a whole collection of things from different people.
This is less of Marina Abramovich’s Rhythm 0, or Yoko Ono’s Cut piece, as my performance is more of a kind of documentation. If it was ever put up for an exhibition, I’d just want to display the vials, not the videos. The idea is to make something so repulsive, beautiful. After all, I can always manipulate the colours of the vomit with the things that I eat. The vial I have now is mostly pink, but when I get a range of different colours (depending on what I eat), I can arrange it in a way that looks very inviting. I won’t tell the viewers what it is, that it’s vomit.
I didn’t tell my classmates that what they were giving to me was going to be eaten, because I knew that if I were to tell them, they would restrict themselves. After the whole thing was done, some of them apologised to me. They said that if they had known I was going to eat it and puke it out, they wouldn’t have given it to me. The agency of the performer and the audience are things to think about here. If you give me something of yours, it now belongs to me. I don’t think there is an ethical dilemma. This is less about giving someone free reign to hurt you, but more about me trying to inhabit the same space as the audience.
When I was younger I used to feel depressed that I’d never be able to inhabit the same space as other people, that I’d never be able to inhabit the better part of a Venn diagram.
On why she’s taking a turn towards performance art: I have always loved performance. I remember the first time I saw a Marina Abramovich video, she was speaking in this crazy Yugoslavian accent and there was so much conviction in what she was saying, I was taken by her. I want to be able to do that, to be so obsessed with the minutiae of life and create violent and visceral works that break your heart again and again, and fill it up so much it feels like you’re drowning.
On why she is moving to Berlin: I went there to see if I could live there – I sold my painting, I had money and I just left — this was in the aftermath of a breakup. Everyone thought I was just going to go there and OD and die! When I was there I didn’t feel the need to do anything or to party. It felt like everyone was already allowed to be whatever they wanted to be, so there was no need to be “the activist.” Here, in Singapore, people keep telling me that they need this rebellious energy of mine. But over there, I felt a calmness. I’ve also had so much support from my friends and family– Berlin was my eat, pray, love moment. Everyone thinks Berlin is like a place to fuck shit up, but for me, it was less frantic and just a calming experience. I came back more of an adult.
On the best thing about living in Berlin: Meeting my friend Jonas Mader, who was like an older brother. He would check up on me and he was such a giving, intelligent person. We would stay up at night and talk and talk and talk. He was the only person who wrote me a birthday card, with a sunflower he drew on the front (Das is meine lieblingsblume! – That’s my favourite flower).
On the best compliment she’s received about her art:
This quote was from an artist in New York, it was a comment he made about a year ago, and when I heard this I cried. It was like he saw me.