Singapore — Artist Jonathan Lim’s works have been removed from a show after a racist rant on Instagram, according to its host, NPE Art Residency.
The show was to feature his works alongside those of fellow artist Priyageetha Dia.
The show, On Common Ground & Public Forms, is supposed to have run until Feb 27 but on Jan 11 (Saturday), NPE Art Residency, where Mr Lim was a former artist-in-residence, said in a Facebook post that it had “withdrawn all of Jonathan’s works at the gallery with immediate effect”.
What sparked Mr Lim’s ire was ostensibly an incident two days after the opening of the show. One of Ms Priyageetha’s friends, a woman named Chand Chandramohan, allegedly laughed during comments by Mr Lim’s guest speaker, Mr Ben Slater.
Mr Lim took to Instagram and called the woman a “snakewhore”. He threatened to “obliterate” not only Ms Chand but also his fellow artist, calling them members of a minority “cult”.
Both women are of Indian ethnicity.
In its Jan 11 post, NPE Art Residency said it “does not support and condemns racism. The NPE team has spoken to former artist in residence, Jonathan Lim, with regards to this stand and wishes to inform all future artists in residence to abide by this stand.”
According to Mr Lim, Ms Chand had laughed when Mr Slater mispronounced a word, which the artist perceived in his Instagram post as “more racist than the racism she purports to overthrow”. The post has since been deleted but can be found in a post by Ms Chand on Facebook.
Ms Chand said she had reached out to Mr Slater, who was unaware of the controversy.
He emailed her to assure her he did not get offended. He wrote: “I did not know the full extent of Jon’s postings about this until you emailed me, and I do not in any way condone what has written, it is deeply unpleasant and offensive. I really regret that he did this.
“I’d like to clear up some misunderstandings. Firstly, I did not hear you laugh during my speech, and was not offended at all.”
CW: Racism, sexism, harassment**update: NPE Art residency responded with:We have come to know about the incident…
Mr Lim’s art is, ironically, described in the show as revolving around unity in spite of differences, “whether or not we realise or acknowledge it, we already stand on much common ground. As Singaporeans first, and then as human beings situated within the universe”.
Mr Lim did not hold back his ire as he wrote: “I’m not afraid of Indians who try to oppress me with the abuse of their minority privilege. It’s possible to be minority and also a hypocritical snakewhore. If I could take down a majority cult, I can sure as hell obliterate a minority one.”
Ms Chand took a fighting stance in her post: “I do think I can do and say whatever to a white man. You caught me! You see, even though my mother didn’t teach to be ‘socially adequate’, she taught me never to bow down to a coloniser or people who defend colonising positions. I operate on this belief that even if I occupy multiple marginalised identities, I have a right to my voice. And yes, I do think I can say whatever and do whatever to a middle-aged white man. Do you know why, Jon? It is because I am a misbehaved snakewhore.”
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