Being Found, Being Lost by Lim Shengen

Between the ephemeral and timelessness

Being Found, Being Lost by Lim Shengen, Images with the kind permission of the artist

The pyramid has perhaps had it’s fair share of publicity over the ages, not just in the recent Transformers: revenge of the fallen (2009). In the Transformer 2 movie, the Giza pyramids (the 3 kings) pointed, like the constellation Orion, to the direction of the tomb of the Primes. The pyramids built around 3000-2500 B.C. remain today, one of the 7 wonders of the world. The pyramids, emblems of gateways to enternity, feature strongly in a photographic series, titled Being Found, Being Lost by Lim Shengen. Each pyramid appear amongst a wide angle shot taken by the artist, possibly digitally manipulated such that it sits surreptitiously in the surrounding, like an alien structure. The soft projection from the overhead projector (OHP), a presentation optical device seldom seen today creates a certain peculiar aura of the work. A fan of Disney’s WALL-E (2008) might imagine that the OHPs also resemble construction cranes, or mechanical ‘heads’ peering out to catch a glimpse, or to cast the images. Placed strategically so that it opens up the space, there is a vague illusion of floating projection screens, befitting of the enigma of the siting and sighting of the pyramids. Is it simply an investigation of the para-normal, or a critique of the ‘permanence’ of the image, intransigent to acknowledge the fallible human memory?

The second component of the exhibition features inkjet prints of different personalities, with their identities masked by wearing printing paper carton boxes. While the viewer’s immediate reaction may be humour, by screening the face of the person, we are forced to scrutinise the surround to get an idea of the identity of these portraits. Perhaps this examines how much our surrounding environment define us, our social identities. This facelessness is uncomfortable, both for the viewer, and imaginably for the sitters. Like Simryn Gill’s Malaysia portrait series A small town at the turn of the century (2001) where the Port Dickson residents’ identities are obscured by bunches of tropical fruit, Lim Shengen’s reference point is the origin of the paper carton boxes: Indonesia. With reference to his own part ancestry, a puzzling dialogue places his family portraiture into context. What might sit out of place, are those photographs of sitters that are not from Indonesia, and the box a mere visual object.

The latter photographs sit quite uncomfortably with the pyramids, and fail to convince the sense of timelessness the artist possibly wanted. Any photograph, arguably are both timeless – freezing a moment in time and space – or transient; our visual translation to memory decides the ephemeral nature of that seeing, and the object continues with it’s own physical slow decay, unless preserved. What these two series presents then, is perhaps better interpreted at face value of the title of the exhibition, the pyramids being found, and the identities being lost.

24th July 2009 to 8th August 2009
SG Private Banking Gallery, Alliance Française de Singapour
2nd Level, 1 Sarkies Road Singapore 258130
Gallery hours: Mon – Fri 11am to 7pm, Sat 11am to 5pm.

One response to “Being Found, Being Lost by Lim Shengen

  1. Nice write up! 🙂

    something interesting about the last line you wrote, about the pyramids being found and the boxed being lost.

    the pyramids wasn’t real and therefore contradicts the idea of being found. the boxed were based on encounters, experiences and stories that were pretty much “found” that was based on lost.. i wonder why everyone always focus on the ancestry part of the boxed work when it was merely my own personal input..

    oh well, thanks for the write up! 🙂

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