theerrand asked: hey I really like your "crying in art" series. is it something you're doing just for the blog or an outside project?
The project started when I came across Hayley Newman’s Crying Glasses (An Aid to Melancholia). I’d seen that piece before, but something about it really affected me this time. I think it’s because I’ve really run the gamut emotionally over this past year. Though I’ve mostly retreated from (and deleted) this, people who have checked out my tumblr for a while will probably remember that in the past I was doing far fewer art posts and more crazy bitch self-destructive blogging (and I truly don’t intend for that characterization to be misconstrued as criticism).
I was dealing with the aftershocks of trauma and finding that I didn’t know how to express my emotions ‘properly’ or ‘appropriately.’ I refused to believe that what I was going through was private or even possible to extricate from ‘the public.’ Crying felt too personal and isolated, and my anger was such that I wanted everyone to understand how they were implicated in what I was experiencing. Not that everyone had done bad things to me, but that my life, and my feelings, felt far more social than I had quite figured out how to express.
Newman’s piece reminded me of the public and performative components of crying. Crying can be a confrontation, intervention, or a demand. As a social psychology nerd, I started thinking through the interpersonal and symbolic interactional elements of crying.
For a while I’ve been interested in thinking about and working through the possibilities and limitations of performing affective politics through tumblr and other forms of widely available social media. That is, what does it mean to perform and communicate emotions? What is the relationship between blogger/writer/creator and an anonymous audience, or a semi-anonymous audience, or with the internet as a sort of endless mirror and self-making tool? How can we conceptualize ourselves as constitutive of and implicated in larger systems of oppression and/or relations of power?
Basically, see: feminist narcissism as first developed by karaj.tumblr.com, feminist thought on silence and voice, l’écriture féminine, the ‘confessional’ impulse, Sarah Ahmed, call out culture and claims to privacy, etc.
While this was my starting point, I quickly discovered that I was also interested in the variety of forms crying can take both visually and emotionally. This, combined with my love of obsessive research, led to the unofficial project I’ve been playing with here. I think I’ll leave it at that for now, because I don’t feel capable of communicating much more. I’m still forming my own thoughts (which are weighed down by my complete ignorance of art history/theory/scholarship and my rather unshakeable gut feeling that I don’t have a ‘right’ to have thoughts about art). Also, I just wrote way too much because I don’t know how to express myself outside of a ramble.