14 – 19 February, 2017
Federation Square – Flinders Street Amphitheatre, Melbourne

Performance times: 8am to 8pm
Preview: Tuesday 14 February, 5 – 8pm

At Federation Square’s Flinders St Amphitheatre, Melbourne-based artist Eugenia Lim presents a new performance commission The People’s Currency from February 14 – 19.

This performance is part of the inaugural AsiaTOPA Festival

The People’s Currency 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’. Dressed as a gold Mao-suited ‘ambassador’, Lim will inhabit a factory printing counterfeit currency of her own design and invite the public to enter into short-term ‘employment’ on the factory floor. The People’s Currency is presented with support from Federation Square and the City of Melbourne.

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 festivals and venues including the Tate Modern, Dark MOFO, Melbourne Festival, Next Wave, GOMA, ACMI, HUN Gallery NY, firstdraft, Artereal Gallery, FACT Liverpool and EXiS Seoul. She has been artist-in-residence with the Experimental Television Centre NY, Bundanon Trust, 4A Beijing Studio with Shen Shaomin and the Robin Boyd Foundation. Her work is held in private and public collections internationally. She holds a Bachelor of Media Arts (Hons.), RMIT University and a Bachelor of Creative Arts, VCA.

Artistic community and the intersection between art and society inform Lim’s wider collaborations: she co-directed the inaugural Channels: the Australian Video Art Festival (2013), is a board member at Next Wave, was founding editor of Assemble Papers (2011–2016) and co-founded temporal art collective Tape Projects (2007–2013).

According to Lim: “The People’s Currency and Renminconn is inspired by the working conditions in the factories of China, in particular my research into Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer and the key maker/supplier of the Apple iPhone. Foxconn is an ongoing subject of controversy in its employment practices. As the key manufacturer of the iPhone, Apple’s ethics and reputation have also been tarnished – but not enough to stop the iPhone 6 being the world’s most popular phone. I see the iPhone as the emblem of globalisation, a symbol that for better and worse entwines the ‘consumer’ to ‘the factory worker’. The iPhone is perhaps the most powerful symbol of the ‘just-in-time’ approach to production that binds factory workers to a never-ending cycle of deadlines, overtime and exhaustion – all to meet the insatiable demands of capital and its product launches, media hype and ‘cult of Apple’. I see myself as complicit in this cycle. Like most of my works, The People’s Currency is driven by a discomfort with the status quo and a personal and political desire to make sense of the role of the artist in society and the conflicted nature of contemporary life.”

Pegasos5 is proud to be Project Manager for The People’s Currency on behalf of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney.