This month, we are introducing you to our newest debuting artist, Keiko Clementine. Having joined Second Life in 2015, he has been sharing his creativity on the platform ever since, which culminated with the opening of his makeup brand keikumu in 2019. In the interview below, we discuss virtual worlds and their importance in self-discovery.
Difficult Conundrum: Keiko! Congratulations on your debut exhibition here in Second Life. I know we have talked about this before, but could you share about how you discovered Second Life?
Keiko Clementine: Thank you, thank you! It’s an honor to be invited. To make a long story short, I found out about Second Life through the Sims community on Tumblr. I remember I was following a few Sims creators that started transitioning into SL and I decided to give it a go! And I have never looked back. I used to juggle both, but in the end I realised the possibilities that SL has, and decided to take a hiatus in Sims.
DC: KLUB 15 is quite an intriguing title. Could you elaborate on its significance and how it ties into the photographs you've chosen to display?
KC: As I was creating the works for this exhibition, I wanted to explore SL through my own eyes and what it means to me. And Second Life is kind of like a club, there’s always so much happening, but it’s quite contained and hidden from the real world and sometimes from the people as well. That’s how I got to the klub part, and yes, club with a k, because of keikumu and keiko. Please no Kardashian references! Of course, inspired by probably the most famous club in the world, I had to have some sort of number. So I chose 15, after the year I landed in this beautiful realm. The club part also seeped from my real life as well, I love exploring nightlife. I guess when creating something personal, different areas of your life start to creep out of everywhere and seep into the work that one might be doing.
DC: The journey from concept to opening night is a dynamic one. What was your creative process like for this body of work? Were there any stand-out moments you’d like to share?
KC: I would say this is the most disorganised I have ever been while working on a project. I usually have moodboards, planners and all those things ready, but not this time. I think maybe I wanted things to come to me organically and not force it out of myself. It can be rather daunting to just let yourself go and let it flow, but I love it. Especially because recently I felt at a standstill with creativity in SL, I feel like working on the exhibition opened up my eyes again. In terms of stand-out moments, it was the first piece that I made. It kind of made you realise this is it, it’s happening and there’s no going back. I remember feeling this rush of energy when I finished it, something I haven’t felt in a while. Same for when we gathered for the first time in the space to actually plan everything out and start piecing together the exhibit. I recall getting off the call with you and Marina and I just felt so giddy, like a child that just had left a candy store. I guess it’s the beginning of things that gets me going.
DC: Self-discovery is often intertwined with queer journeys. Do any of the photographs in your exhibition specifically explore themes of self-identity and self-discovery?
KC: For sure, I feel like the limitless boundaries that SL has have really helped me explore my own identity in many different ways. From understanding queer culture better, to refining my aesthetic feeling. I grew up always being the black sheep of the family, so SL was so important to me. It was the first place where I felt that I could do whatever I wanted without any comments or discouragement. And I feel like KLUB 15 really celebrates that. Just through my frivolous obsession with color, when IRL I avoid color and it only shows up in my work, but not around me. I also wanted all the avatars presented to be slightly disconnected from real life bodies, having unrealistic proportions and so on to show that we do live in this fantasy world of a bubble, with our own societal norms. Also a huge topic I wanted to touch upon, was the beauty of sexuality that everyone can so freely explore in SL. It’s safe to say that most users are quite open to exploration, so that happens quite often and it’s beautiful! That’s one of the best things about SL. I know so many people who completely bloomed because of how forgiving and open everyone is, and safe to say I think I had my own transformation through my life in SL. That’s what KLUB 15 is about, exploration of Second Life, beauty, sexuality and self.
DC: And lastly, as your exhibition opens, what emotions and hopes are you carrying with you, and what do you ultimately want your audience to take away from this experience?
KC: There’s so many!! Excitement, tiredness, and slight tinge of sadness. The true experience of a club. And I just want people to enjoy it, understand it in their own way, and experience their own journey. While this exhibit is about sharing a piece of my own mind, hopefully some of you can take it and understand it in your own way, building your own relationships with the pieces. Because essentially that’s the best part when you start having your own personal connotations attached to a piece.
KLUB 15 opens on Aug. 26th, 1pm SLT @GBTH