I Thing therefore I am 《我的东西》

170 X 60 x 170 cm
ink on paper, ready made objects

“East” and “West” in Chinese are “东” (dong) and “西” (xi), respectively. Combined as a phrase, “东西 (dongxi)” means “things”. This assembly of Lee Ju-Lyn’s personal things is entitled “我的东西” (wo de dongxi) which literally means both “My Things” and “My East and West”. This self-portrait was designed to meet the challenge of creating a work for an exhibition that was the culmination of a three-week cultural immersion programme to Beijing, China, of the theme “East meets West”. It was presented at 《南鹭北平》 exhibition, at On Air Gallery, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

Background and Symbolism

Ju-Lyn reflected that she was the personification of the “East meets West” project theme as her upbringing, education, identity, beliefs, and aspirations are equally influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures. This idea was especially inspired by her immersion trip experience, particularly since she served as the translator for the Beijing Institute of Technology lectures.

Motivated by Descartes’s “I think therefore I am” (“我思故我在”), Ju-Lyn chose to use books and conceptual art to represent what she thinks about and, therefore, her very self.

There are 100 books stacked to Ju-Lyn’s physical height, with each book signifying one percent of her. They were selected for this work for their colour, with red representing the East and blue, the West. The books range from Ju-Lyn’s childhood readings to her current preoccupations, revealing her eclectic interests in both Eastern and Western ideas. Included as well, are books Ju-Lyn had authored and published, with the number of copies representing her age. The other items, such as the scarf, spectacles, and lapis lazuli pendant, are also symbolically significant.

Through this work, Ju-Lyn presents three aspects of herself: The things she thinks about (her thoughts and beliefs), the things she does or writes about (her actions and aspirations), and the things she puts on (her appearance and identity).
“我就是体现着 ‘东’与‘西’的主题。从哪里可以看得出来呢?从我思考着的东西、我做着的东西、和我穿戴着的东西。”