Lim States is a video work of calligraphic bilingual poetry and ecosexual drag exploring Cantonese identity and Chinese divination. Lim (林) is the Cantonese name given to Steven James Finch by his poh poh (阿婆) – referring to a gathering of trees, lim, in English, is a latinate root describing a boundary or edge, a limit or liminality – and for Finch/Lim is evocative of the stateless nature of diasporic existence. The drag character, Lim, emerges out of a feeling that being either Chinese or English for Finch, as someone with both colonised and coloniser ancestries, feels like drag. Lim naively imitates Cantonese opera traditions, and is an effort by Finch to fashion an active cultural imagining that uses an “authentic heritage” to reimagine future possibilities for being in the anthropocene as a transnational being – home, self, and future as radically m/other. Lim States is part of a series of ongoing collaborative and interdisciplinary projects called Oracle Bone – a research project with the State Library of WA looking into migrant histories of Asian people, and creating speculative fictive artworks and writings with the descendants of Asian Immigrants, and with Asian communities in WA.
Image credit: Bob Symons