Leon Lim, a Supplementary Biography

Leon Lim, Image via Poptower

New York-based Leon Lim is a classic Acceptable New Media Artist, with a twist: he’s a deaf Malaysian. His practice seems to oscillate between those two roles, with Lim alternately creating entirely mute, anonymous works (a nice-looking light wall, some chair stacks about how important community is) and works driven by his personal narrative (with titles like Killing My Deafness). To progress to the next rank of Acceptable New Media Artist, he’ll be expected to combine those strands; this may or may not help the actual quality of the work. In any case, he’s a strong contender for Work of Art, thanks to a wide skill set (video, sculpture) and an interesting story; TV folks fucking love asking what a work “means to you”, and Leon’s bound to have some juicy answers.


Lim has shown in Total Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and the World Financial Center in New York City. None of those venues are particularly prestigious, but they’re reasonable places for an emerging artist to show; it’s also worth noting that we can’t find any American shows of his in private galleries.


Lim's work is something of a bastardization of Ai Weiwei, using the aesthetics of interior design. As part of the George Town Festival 2010, he was commissioned by the Penang State government to make a public stack of chairs, ending up with what looks a little like a scale model of Doris Salcedo’s installation for the 2003 Istanbul Biennale; here’s a boring video of him standing next to it.  In 2008, he installed a light-up interior deco sculpture for Rochester Institute of Technology's (his alma mater's) study lounge.  In his 2010 video Silent Story, hands create sign language too fast for the viewer to read, part of a body of video-based work about his deafness.

Leon Lim, Silent Story, 2010


The one and only “character trait” which is prominently highlighted in every one of Leon's bios is that he had his own apartment at age 14.  We're guessing there's not much else to speak of.


The Muffler.


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