I came across Qixuan Lim (@qimmyshimmy) while I was browsing through the list of people followed by those who I follow on Instagram (a favorite pastime activity of mine). Currently at 17,800 followers, the twenty-five-year-old, self-proclaimed “accidental sculptor” from Singapore caught my attention almost immediately. I scrolled through the seemingly endless feed of fetus head sculptures in gumball machines; delicate replicas of human organs; detached limbs and other bodily parts. Lim’s style made a striking statement that was unforgiving of any decision of skipping out on the ‘follow’ button.
Apart from the ‘flesh’, Lim uses symbolism as her creative mouthpiece, and lets her audiences’ imagination run wild. The whimsical and fictional world that she pictures is a projection of her inspirations from chronicles, folk tales, and sci-fi fantasies from her childhood.
i) Please describe your work in 3 words.
‘Whimsical’, ‘curious’, and ‘delicate’.
ii) Your sculptures are both extremely fascinating and disturbing – why did you choose to create miniature sculptures of organs, babies, limbs, and livestock?
I have always been quite fascinated by the tactility of flesh, as well as the human body. I think a lot of people associate sculptures of the human body with either science or gore. It does not express anything when it is too scientific or horrific, so I try to find that space in-between with my work. My inspiration comes from everything that I do and read (I also watch a lot of sci-fi).
iii) The sculptures you have posted on Instagram feature a lot of beheaded fetuses with their eyes closed. Why are they all asleep?
Some people think they are asleep, and some people think they are dead. I think that is the whole point of it, to make you wonder.
iv) You have named fantasy tales, time traveling, and imagined worlds as the sculptors of your artistic direction. What does the word ‘art’ mean to you then?
Art is not able to cure diseases or solve world hunger, but it has the ability to comfort our souls, be it through music, writing, poetry, performance, film or visual arts. Art with imagination is the best kind, because they transport you to new places.
v) How would you describe the transformations in your art when compared to when you first started?
I have experimented with many different mediums. When I was younger, I really wanted to be an illustrator, so I was drawing and painting a lot. I used to make works that were very sweet and cheerful! Cute is appealing, but it is very hard to be taken seriously (not saying that it is impossible!). As I matured as an artist, my works started to shed all the sweetness, and now it is what it is.
vi) Tell us all about your creative process? What happens when you get an idea for a piece, and how does it come into shape?
I usually start with a concept (usually given to me by curators or my commissioners). The ideas will take off from there. I think I have always been interested and sensitive to symbolism, like an egg may be just an egg to many people, but to me, it means something more. I wonder about a lot of things: what if I was really tiny, or if I was really big? Everyday things can inspire me a lot.
vii) As you are based predominantly in Singapore, what are some of your favorite things about this city, and do you think your environment have influenced your work at all?
I grew up in Singapore and I am Singaporean, inside and out. I love and hate many things about Singapore, but to me, she will always be my home. I love the convenience and the efficiency, but really dislike the humidity and how materialistic the society can be. I feel that my work has always been influenced by places that are not quite “real” – from books I read in my childhood, stories, folklore, and science fiction. I am lucky that I get to travel a lot, so I pick inspirations from all around the world!
viii) You are quite active on Instagram and it seems to be your dominant medium of social media; are there particular reasons for this, and how does Instagram help impact the way your audiences perceive your works?
I am also a very visual person, so Instagram naturally became the main platform to share my art. Although I am very active online, I am very private, so I tend not to post anything about my private life online. Instagram is a great social platform because it connects me to so many wonderful people, and I also discovered a lot of great artists through this platform. I was lucky that my art was picked up by some influential accounts, and that gave my work the exposure I never dreamt of getting.
ix) Any artists or creative individuals that you would love to have a chance to collaborate with in the future? Why?
I have many heroes, like Ron Mueck, Sam Jinks, DongWook Lee (just to name a few), but I can never imagine asking them to collaborate with me! I would love to work for film sets, and people who are into robotics would be fun to collaborate with too. I would also love to learn a thing or two from taxidermists as well.
x) Lastly, are there any upcoming projects in the remainder of the year that you would like to share with our readers?
Oh yes. I will be taking part in a Biennale in Portugal this summer, and then working on my very first solo show in the Netherlands where I’m currently based, which I am super, super excited about!