The identification of self has always been an intriguing subject to me. Quite often, while looking into the mirror, I cannot help asking myself the same questions: “Who is it that is within and behind the image I call my-self? Are the observer and the observed identical? If not, in what ways and to what extent are they different?” As I have noticed, somehow bewildered, there exists another personality, sealed or lurking, in this body I claim mine. I sense an alien being, aware of its yearning for love, hearing its ravings in dreams. There is no escape from its clutch as this being has become the core of my pain and fear.
In order to mitigate the inextricable anguish, I have tried different ways to get rid of this excruciating burden resulting from the anxiety about the self. Some worked, but only for a short time, while most failed. As I felt desperately frustrated and thought about giving up this long quest for answers, or even myself, unexpectedly, it happened when I discovered photography. For the first time in my life, I experienced unusual moments of peace and relief standing behind the camera. Then it occurred to me: why not document how I might look when overwhelmed by emotions, especially when feeling depressed? The process of shooting and investigating was not always soothing, however. When I examined the images I had crafted, the figures in the pictures confronted me as if they were others, so foreign to me that I could barely conceive who they were or where they came from. Gradually, I have come to perceive that they are the ghosts living inside of me. They are, in reality, the different selves repeatedly rejected in my life, in the past and at present, waiting to be registered and defined for the reason why they were excluded, claiming their right for recognition and acceptance. And then I realized what I called “self” was merely the tip of an iceberg. The majority of it is still submerged in the deep, unfathomed darkness.
The contradiction and angst I have suffered spawned the prelude to this self-exploring journey. Sometimes I stare at the images of myself, feeling again the gnawing pain emerge from deep within to the surface of reality reminding me of my very existence – what a meagre existence I have led! Enclosed by the walls constructed out of quandaries, desires, anger, delusion and even self-denial, how could I ever find a way out? With the yearlong probing and reflecting, I have, gratefully, learned that I should open my heart up and relate myself to this world, establishing connections to others, so as to alleviate the pain I feel for myself. Therefore, here I am, fully exposed.