Doppelgänger

-- "Being Self" is a performance, a memory and narrative, a fiction and reality, a profound complexity of sense.

 

Incorporating themes of personal loss family, my work, a projection, recreation and embodiment of self through a fictive reality, is at once fantastical and macabre; rendering work that poetically traces a relationship with myself and my dead sister.

Introduction:

 

In the 1970’s, because of the one-child policy in China, rural residents were only allowed to have a second child if their first one was a girl.  My brother and sister were born under these circumstances.

In 1986, my 14 year old sister died of an undiagnosed illness. 

Her passing changed everything for my family. Until For one year later, my mother could not escape from the endless sorrow and she made a great determination- to have another child. 

The reason I call it a great determination is not only because of the strict policy not permitting her to have another child.  The sadness in this story is that my mother had already been forced to have a tubal ligation, as a part of the law by law. 

In 1989, my mother overcame many difficulties to make the “baby dream” come true; and that is how I came into the world. 

My family burned all of my sister’s belongings and pictures after she left, in order to bury this painful memory. 

I heard so many stories about my sister, but there was no way for me to trace her- nothing left.

That didn't drive her away from my life.  Instead, I never stopped wondering: 

Is she near?


 

Somehow, I accepted that she might be a part of me. My habits her habits, my sensations her sensations, my emotions her emotions, my possibilities and experiences also hers. It is a crazy, strange but incredible feeling. That is the dissolution of barriers between two individuals. I feel I have the responsibility to treasure every moment and every detail in my life more then others.

          In this project, there are two parts—poem and object. In the poems, I make up my dead sister’s existence.   I shift myself between her identity and my identity, to mingle fact with fiction—both autobiography and imagination. I borrow my dead sister’s voice to speak, in order to probe the zone where my individuality ends and where another’s starts. I want to use this experience to question the term “self.” I am both the author and narrator of this play. I capture the intimate hand signature of another person, and generate a collection of text fragments or traces to present a narrative account of a life lived.

My sister is mystery to me, someone I know only through stories other people tell me. I imagine fictional stories and write into a poem to show how I feel about her existence. I fake a relationship between me and her and to make her speak to me.

          Meanwhile, the objects I make seem real; they mimic the character of the life-like object. But they are related to fiction too in that all or part is translated into another material or the shape is distorted.  The objects look as if they function but in some way behave differently, because they are somehow hybrid.

          For me, the objects work as props, presenting a moment on the stage after the play. Someone may come by and wonder what happened, what story was told here, where are the actors, what are their lines. I use my object to evoke imaginations, to tell stories that could inspire audience. The physical interaction in the objects is to pull the viewer into the narrative, to be a significant part of the completion of the works.

 

Main Material: Copper, Paper, Plaster, Writing and Love

 

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