My photographs look quirky & cheerful on the surface, but the underlying issues are always dark.”
Wilfred “Weegee” Lim (born 1988) is a photographer from Malaysia currently living in Singapore.
He studied photography at “School of Art, Design & Media” (Nanyang Technological University).
For Wilfred Lim photography is a medium to visualize his ideas and to deal with the ambiguity of human life.
He’s especially intrigued by responding to “political and environmental issues in my hometown and contemporary Malaysia”.
Interview with Wilfred Lim
Wilfred, in one of your recent projects you are dealing with the subject of self-portraits. How did the idea for that come up?
I am always interested in the idea of identity and alter ego. Another reason could be I am the best model for my own work.
I don’t have to worry about copyright or any other logistic issues dealing with models for my shoot.
Portraiture is a genre traditionally used to explore issues of identity. What do your photographs tell about yourself?
One of my close friends told me that I looked happy outside. But I am actually sad inside.
I think my works carry similar kind of expression.
My photographs look quirky & cheerful on the surface, but the underlying issues are always dark. They are also reflection of my thoughts and concerns at different points in my life.
One common thread throughout your work is the issue of “demolition”. Why did you choose that particular subject and what’s the idea behind it?
“My aim is to make use of photography to respond to all the political and environmental issues in my hometown and contemporary Malaysia.”
I lived and grew up in a small fishing village at the seaside in Pengerang, Southern Malaysia for 18 years before pursuing my education in Singapore 8 years ago. Unfortunately, Pengerang is undergoing demolition due to the construction of an oil refinery since year 2011.
I have been working on the issue of demolition for the past two years. My aim is to make use of photography to respond to all the political and environmental issues in my hometown and contemporary Malaysia.
I have been following the progress of the development and creating new works from time to time to gradually form up the entire Pengerang project.
How do you deal with the issue of “demolition”? How do you visually translate it in your images?
One of my past interviewers pointed out that there is a constant visual language through out my works, which is death. For my self-portraits series, I have referenced to one of the classical Painting, “The Death of Marat” by Jacque Louis David. It helps to portray the idea of death and demolition.
Do you think it’s possible as a photographer to still be unique these days? Or do you rather consider it to be more important to create an own style adding your personal twist to something that has already been done before?
I think it is still possible to be unique by reinventing what have already been done.
What reaction would you like to provoke in people looking at your images?
Philosopher Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
The most significant lesson I have learnt through photography is the self-discovery process. I have better understanding of my own identity now.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
My self-portraits series is the series that caught a lot of attentions and gave me confidence to keep producing new works.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Here’s my question:
Q: All of your series are inspired by your hometown. Do you have any other issues/topics you wish to explore beside that?
A: I am very interested in human beings & life cycle. I am also interested in cosmic universe.
“W” is one of the newest series I did to talk about my ideology of life cycle.