My whole life has been spent pseudo-impersonating “Bruce Lee” (who would have been 74 years old today). Whenever I give my name, the most common response is “Like Bruce Lee?” According to Hetain Patel, that’s not the only way nor reason to not imitate Bruce Lee. His TED presentation (more of a performance art piece) titled “Who am I? Think Again” embraces the art of imitation, but more especially the power of failed imitation…

  • “So my artwork is about identity and language, challenging common assumptions based on how we look like or where we come from, gender, race, class. What makes us who we are anyway? I used to read Spider-Man comics, watch kung fu movies, take philosophy lessons from Bruce Lee…This year, I am 32 years old, the same age Bruce Lee was when he died. I have been wondering recently, if he were alive today, what advice he would give me about making this TED Talk: ‘Don’t imitate my voice. It offends me.’ Good advice, but I still think that we learn who we are by copying others. Who here hasn’t imitated their childhood hero in the playground, or mum or father? I have…So this imitation business does come with risk. It doesn’t always go as you plan it, even with a talented translator. But I am going to stick with it, because contrary to what we might usually assume, imitating somebody can reveal something unique. So every time I fail to become more like my father, I become more like myself. Every time I fail to become Bruce Lee, I become more authentically me. This is my art. I strive for authenticity, even if it comes in a shape that we might not usually expect.”
Advertisements