The People’s Currency
MELBOURNE. 14 – 19 FEBRUARY 2017.
The People’s Currency is a new performance work by Melbourne-based artist Eugenia Lim. The work takes its name from Renminbi (China’s currency) and explores the social impacts of globalisation on those who seek their fortunes in the factories of China – or the ‘workshop of the world’. When almost everything is now ‘Made in China’, how are we all implicated as consumers, in the labour conditions of the production line? Dressed as a gold Mao-suited ‘ambassador’, Lim will inhabit a factory printing counterfeit currency of her own design. Presiding over the printing of money, Lim will also act as floor manager to a ‘factory’ of workers. The public is invited to enter into short-term ‘employment’ on the factory floor. In exchange for basic menial work, the ‘employee’ will be remunerated in The People’s Currency. The People’s Currency turns a site in Melbourne’s CBD into ‘Renminconn’, a closed loop ‘special economic zone’. In Lim’s project, mass-production and money-printing become strategies for contemplating the human impact of the ‘long march’ of global capitalism.
Eugenia Lim (b. 1981 Melbourne, Australia) is an Australian artist of Chinese–Singaporean descent who works across video, performance and installation. Interested in how nationalism and stereotypes are formed, Lim invents personas to explore the tensions of an individual within society – the alienation and belonging in a globalised world.
Conflations between authenticity, mimicry, natural, man-made, historical and anachronistic are important to the work. To this end, Lim finds inspiration in sites and objects that are both ‘contemporary’ and ‘out of time’, embodied and virtual. Model homes, suburban sprawl, CCTV, online chat rooms, fake food, historical parks and the Australian landscape have all featured in the work. Counterpoint to these sites, Lim has performed the identities of Japanese hikikomori; a Bowie-eyed rock star; the cannibal Issei Sagawa; a suburban beautician; Miranda from Picnic at Hanging Rock and currently, a gold Mao-suited ‘Ambassador’. This dialogue between place and performance reflects the push-pull between Australian and Asian, the mono and the multi-cultural.
Lim’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Tate Modern, GOMA, ACMI, HUN Gallery NY, and FACT Liverpool. She has received a number of Australia Council for the Arts grants and residencies, including a residency at the Experimental Television Centre NY and exchange at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She is currently an artist-in-residence at Bundanon Trust. Collaboration, artistic community and the intersection between art and society informs her practice: in addition to her solo work, she co-directed the inaugural Channels: the Australian Video Art Festival, is a board member at Next Wave, the founding editor of Assemble Papers and co-founder of interdisciplinary collective Tape Projects.