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Crying in Motherhood: Collected Stories

Pregnancy and motherhood have been transformative experiences for me that have altered the way I think, feel and react. My initial research into crying and motherhood revealed the hormonal and neurological changes that are contributing factors to this, however social pressure, questions of identity and gender also play a big role. To explore this further I reached out to friends who are also mothers to ask for their stories related to crying in motherhood. Their responses point in many directions: the physical pain and endurance of pregnancy and parenting, stepping into a new identity as ‘Mother’, the bond between mother and child, heartbreak of separation and the joy of growth.

Thank you to all the mothers who contributed stories to this collection.

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Tears disintegrating the snow

Dear dr.Köbele,

Do you know how frightening it is to be called with the code ”urgent”? My legs froze today, and my heart blew up, breaking through the thin skin of my chest.

What is it?

2 x 15

Today I had two sessions closed in the strange metal body of that loud machine, two times half an hour inside of the capsule. Surrounded by the disturbing sounds coming from the walls of it, I had a chance to picture my brain cells dancing within the empty skull, bumping onto the walls of it and changing the rhythm according to the song played by the MR.

What is it, dr. Köbele?

“If we find it, you will have to receive a contrast medicine.” they said. My blood was mixed with the gadolinium contrast medium in the second session, which means that they had found it.


The second session made me think: this is the second round or the second encounter of a potentially big change. A big step backward, perhaps, or forwards, inevitably? For the second time, I received this terrible news, still not knowing what is it.

What makes my hands numb for so long?
Doctor Köbele?

Integration

Thank you, Sick Body, for being so brave not to hide your most honest feelings and reactions. Thank you for hiking several kilometers and discovering all these beautiful hills today after being exposed to the capsule and contrasts, because you faced those
white-coated, frozen,
tale-like scenes,
long trunks,
thin grass coming out of the white carpet,
tiny branches that in their extreme geometrical confusion created a puzzle.
They looked the same as MR pictures of my brain, doctor – impossible to understand, with the complicated history and unexpected changes, even entity, in a way I understand it.

Lost & Found

Today I lost my earring, right before entering the capsule, and my left glove while running through the snowy hills.
But I found the strength to support myself on this weird journey, producing powerful tears that burn my face and melt the snow.

…until you call me, I am not going to move anywhere.


Pinky swear, dr Köbele.

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My memory palace

Hey everyone!
Inspired by my research about Oskar Kokoschka I decided to create a series of drawings. As Kokoschka used the text of the cantata, from Bach, as a reference to draw about his life, I decided to read through the text of the cantata again and I was wondering, if the same text would inspire me as well. And it did…

My drawings are matched with some paragraphs of the cantata and they are partly auto fictional. I tried to catch the mood of the text in the images as well. My series of drawings are created with gouache-paint on paper and they are all in the size A4. My drawings are inspired by my long distant relationship and they give a small insight to the ups and downs that come with being apart from each other.

Two weeks

Paragraph from the cantata:
” Ich weiß vor großer Traurigkeit nicht,
wo ich mich hinwende;
mein ganz erschrockenes Herze bebt,
daß(sic) mir die Zung am Gaumen klebt.”
english:
“Facing great sorrow I do not know
where I should turn.
My heart completely terrified shudders
so that my tongue clings to my gums”

Stuck in the middle

german:
Wenn der Verdammten große Qual
So manches Jahr, als an der Zahl
Hie Menschen sich ernähren,
Als manchen Stern der Himmel hegt.
Als manches Laub das Erdreich trägt,
Noch endlich sollte währen,
So wäre doch der Pein zuletzt
Ihr recht bestimmtes Ziel gesetzt.

english:
the great torment of the damned
were to go on for as many years
as the number that men live here,
as many as the stars the heaven contains,
as many as the leaves the earth bears,
then finally the pain would have
a certain and definite end”

Don’t look down

german:
“Mein letztes Lager will mich schrecken.
Mich wird des Heiland Hand bedecken.
Des Glaubens Schwachheit sinket fast.
Mein Jesus trägt mit mir die Last.”
english:
“My last bed wants to frighten me.
The hand of the Savior will cover me.
The weakness of faith is almost sinking.
My Jesus bears the burden with me.”

My memory palace

german:
“Wach auf, o Mensch, vom Sündenschlaf,
Ermuntre dich, verlornes Schaf,
Und bessre bald dein Leben!
Wach auf, es ist doch hohe Zeit,
Es kommt heran die Ewigkeit,
Dir deinen Lohn zu geben!
Vieleicht ist heut der letzte Tag.”
english:
“Wake up, o man, from the sleep of sin,
rouse yourself, lost sheep,
and soon make better your life!
Wake up, it is high time,
Eternity comes upon you
to give you your reward!
Perhaps today is the last day.”

Anticipation

german:
O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,
O Schwert, das durch die Seele bohrt,
O Anfang sonder Ende!
O Ewigkeit, Zeit ohne Zeit,
Ich weiß vor großer Traurigkeit
Nicht, wo ich mich hinwende.
Nimm du mich, wenn es dir gefällt,
Herr Jesu, in dein Freudenzelt!

english:
O eternity, you word of thunder,
o sword that pierces through my soul,
o beginning that has no end!
O eternity, time without time,
facing great sorrow
I do not know where I should turn.
Take me, whenever it pleases you,
Lord Jesus, into your tent of joy.

I hope some of the drawings or paragraphs speak to some of you as well. If something comes up, feel free to share a comment with your thoughts. 🙂 Thank you.

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Crying Mothers through an AI lens

Using Dall.E to explore images of crying in motherhood; exhausted, joyous, self-doubting, overwhelmed, happy, lonely, distraught, the pressures of a changing identity.

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Tears scorched on the Sun

Encountering a disease has ambivalent consequences. On one hand, it is a terror of potential disabilities, changes, and in its worst case permanent absence from the white leather, quite a comfortable sofa we are sitting in while receiving the news. On the other hand, it is an unexplainable blessing, a potentiality, a touch that burns our chest and lets us embrace the overwhelmedness.

Today I met dr. Köbele

I read all the magazines you have on the shelf, daily horoscopes for the past week, ate two Spekulatius cookies, and explored each corner of the waiting room until the voice of the nurse struggled to pronounce this long last name of mine.

And there I was, waiting for you to tell me, whatever you have to tell me.

Observing my body – my fingers paralyzed, my toes hurting, my body getting weaker each second, my daily life changing, my brain not working properly, tired, exhausted, disabled. Today, I finally took into consideration – I might be sick.

Today I liked your jokes,  dr. Köbele. Your way of delivering, examining, and telling stories about possibilities and disabilities.

Dear dr. Köbele, today I felt weaker than ever, lonelier than ever, and far away from everything that gives me strength. But today I loved my body in one morning more than I had loved it in these 26 years and stared directly at the sun longer than I could have ever imagined it.

“Kracunovic Nadja – brought into the world to love you and herself equally to the point of exhaustion, that’s why she feels so guilty that she gets sick, and that the love coefficient drops suddenly. Do your best to help Kracunovic Nadja to multiply her love – exclusively”

I walked down the street with a great burden on my chest and sun on my face. I let the tears outpour and slide down my cheeks. If gravity were to change its direction, the tears would climb up the sky, directly to the Sun.

Dear dr. Köbele, my tears burnt on the sun and no pain accompanied this great beauty.

Directly at the Sun

…I remembered the book I have read two times and that never left my mind – “Starring at the Sun” by Irvin David Yalom, an American existential psychiatrist and author of both fiction and nonfiction that shares a precious moment from the individual and group therapy with people who were afraid to look directly at the Sun.

Starring at the Sun, Irvin D.Jalom

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crying and laughing

I suddenly remembered one afternoon an idiom about crying, crying and laughing. It made me very curious, it seems that in my perception, crying and laughing are a pair of antonyms, are there times when these two emotions are expressed at the same time?


Have you ever had such an experience? Laughing when you are in tears of pain, or shedding tears when you are extremely happy and joyful.

Crying and laughing at the same time

Whether crying uncontrollably or laughing wantonly, the purpose is to regulate in order to adapt to the internal senses and the needs of the environment

Psychologists have pondered the relationship between behavioral responses and emotions, and have argued that each underlying emotion has a unique circuit.
For example, when something we hope to accomplish ultimately fails, we experience the anticipation of sadness, and this emotion activates a series of neural structures that create substantial sadness in the limbic system, which then continues along the circuit to produce several responses in the face and trunk, i.e., pouting/crying/and body curling. This is consistent with common sense.
However, the only possible explanation for the situation of laughing while extremely sad is that there is a temporary psychological abnormality that interferes with the normal emotional response circuitry.
.
This abnormal reaction is mentioned in the paper by Oriana R. Aragón et al.
To paraphrase my words, there is no direct causal link between the kind of emotion that appears in the face of the event and the behavioral response, both laughing and crying are part of the regulation, and the meaning of the behavioral response is an effective regulation to reconcile the internal and external environment.

<Dimorphous Expressions of Positive
Emotion: Displays of Both Care and
Aggression in Response to Cute Stimuli>

https://clarkrelationshiplab.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Psychological%20Science-2015-Arag%C3%B3n-259-73.pdf

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The Most of the Most Precious Tears in The World

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After enough hours on the internet, after going through as many questions as I could go through

Considering the sensitivity of the subject

Considering the high sensitivity of the matters

I finally found them.

I assembled to you nothing but the truth, nothing but what has been kept hidden from you.

I collected all I can, I had to compromise at a point,

Yet hopefully, I still water your eyes,

Your senses and your grief.

Ladies and Gentlemen

observing

observing

then observing

can lead to so much more than just observing

Isn’t that what we have learned from them?

Based on observations I found a positive correlation between the population size, the country area, and the president’s tears. The bigger the power, the more abundant the tears!

There is also a relation between the mental stability of the president and their crying.*

It is not true what we think of them,

They feel and they feel a lot… Just look at the pictures

Not all of the US presidents cried, trump was actually mimicking two crying children he was carrying out of a rally. Reagan had a tear channel implant after his death, so he was not exactly able to produce tears before his death, only after, so it seems.

Cute dictators and tight territorial war criminals do not cry, they are tough, and big boys do not cry.

“Big boys do not cry” is my special stolen from somewhere theory and it triggers a lot, proves, and negates itself on so many occasions.

There is another positive correlation between the crying of presidents and time;

WITH TIME, THEY ALL CRY.

And also it was hard to find dusty dead dictators crying, big boys don’t cry

Some of them actually pose for the camera while crying, E.g. king Mohammed Ben Salman.

Hands of presidents and tissues are actually useful.

Tears of war criminals have therapeutic uses, that’s why they are in general rare and expensive

They cost a lot

A looooot

More than you can imagine.

So the average human being wishes they do not shed them at all

Self-denying war criminals are good at it.

*Check the collage for pictures of US President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

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WHO OWNS THE TEARS?

While i still try to answer that question, i might just make it a poster series.

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Oskar Kokoschka and his autobiographical lithographs

Hey everyone I wanted to share with you some images and details about Oskar Kokoschka and his lithographs, which he did for the Bach cantata with the name:

/O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort/

Here the link to the original cantata with an orchestra : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJX8hlCZC8M

All lithographs drawn for the text of the cantata are collected in this book. As I was only able to find 6 of the original 11 litographs drawn by Oskar Kokoschka in another book I bought this book second hand to see all of his works. (I took this photo of my copy)

The drawings reflect on Kokoschkas life and his relationship with Alma Mahler. Alma Mahler was the wife of the famous composer and conductor Gustav Mahler. She was a famous personality in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century, as she was part of the music, literature and art movement at the time.

Oskar Kokoschka met her when he was hired to draw a portrait of Alma Mahler. Kokoschka fell in love with her the first night they met and they had a very intense relationship for about 3 years. In these 3 years they experienced a lot of ups and downs. Kokoschka was a very jealous partner and he tried to control her social life. Alma got pregnant but decided to get an abortion, a loss for Kokoschka from which he never fully recovered. Next to these dramatic events they were madly in love and when Alma Mahler decided to break up with Oskar Kokoschka it was very hard for both of them.

After the break up Kokoschka went to war and was badly injured. Alma Mahler did not visit him at the hospital because she said she does not believe his wounds nor him anymore. When Kokoschka returned home he hired a doll-maker to produce a doll which should look exactly like his lost love Alma. The doll was later destroyed but it was build with every detail Kokoschka remembered about Almas body and features.

The Alma Mahler Doll. Here is the link to where I found this photo: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https://twitter.com/jerrysaltz/status/807037646514061313?lang=de&psig=AOvVaw2wbzE0MN9zGAyA0uyN2-JK&ust=1668868931406000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CBEQjhxqFwoTCNDQ0rH7t_sCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAR 

His relationship to Alma Mahler inspired him a lot and very famous paintings like the “Windsbraut” were created during this period. He kept on saying that at least in these paintings they are together forever. Kokoschka compared his love for Alma Mahler to the medival story of “Tristan and Iseult” which symbolizes the pain and heartbreak he had to go through.

Img 1: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https://www.meinbezirk.at/favoriten/c-lokales/leopold-museum-eine-verhaengnisvolle-liebe-oskar-kokoschka-alma-mahler_ a3342003&
Img 2: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https://www.oskar-kokoschka.ch/de/1020/1244/Die%20Windsbraut&psig=AOvVaw05nFXXRawHMrAZw-semXEQ& ust=1668869248094000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CBEQjhxqFwoTCKjWwcf8t_sCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAF 
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100% in Tear

On 14.12. 2022. the Wednesday late night, a sharp scream broke out from Marienstraße. This was a performance work shop, organized by me, called crazy dark room.

The dark room happened in my room. I cleared every sharp objects to the sides or hided in the shelf so that participants wouldn’t accidentally get hurt while performing.

Hier was the introduction, to let participants quickly get into it.

Crazy Dark Room
Let your Limitation free!

Content:
First, u need to think now u are a Psychosis. Explain the story in your mind about how you have gone crazy.
Second, I will lead u one by one in to my dark room.
Third, u start to performance, let your emotion and your story free in this dark empty space.

Last, short discussion/ write down how u feel.

During the work shop i documented the process with the camera and phones. Hier is the last 2 minutes in the end before the police almost came.

As i tried to forget myself from the reality and let all anger or dirty thoughts take control of me, the thoughts of “Nobody hier loves me, Nobody hier cares me. I am useless.” came up to my mind and drove me truly cried.

I went so exhausted that i have to end the work shop in the end.

Later as we were doing the feedback round, my friend who was also in the work shop, cried. And one of my roommate, who was rushing back to the apartment when she got the call from other roommates, hug me tightly for about 20 minutes after i came out from my room.

The work shop was firstly designed to be a chance that i imagined to revenge back against those people who fucked up with me in the real life. But in the end it turned out that the only people i hurt, are those who care about me.

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Datafication of Crying

Hi everyone, first of all: Happy New Year (within the Gregorian calendar). I hope you all had a nice restorative time during this small lecture break.  

Here follows the blogpost describing the existing crying material I have selected:

589 Days of Crying by Robin Weis

For my PhD-research, I am exploring personal data, what they are, and what they mean to people. Part of my research is exploring how to move beyond our current understanding of (personal) data, which is often limited to easy to quantify activities and phenomena (e.g., step count and heart rate data), and explore how to incorporate qualitative experiences, as these are quintessential as to how we understand our worlds. With this lens and interest, I discovered the work of Robin Weis.

Figure 1. Robin Weis’ classification scale for the type / intensity of cry. Own visualisation.

For personal reasons, Robin Weis started to track her cries, collect a database, and visualise this. This process required her to define what counts as a cry (“I defined a “cry” to begin once I shed a tear and end when I regained composure.”), distinguish between different types / intensities of crying (see Figure 1), and determine exclusion criteria (cries triggered by “sensational stimuli” such as allergies or laughter were not included).  Within this frame, the date, time, intensity, location, and context of 589 days of crying were tracked and visualised, resulting in the following visualisation:

Figure 2. Crying data represented in a parallel set plot by Robin Weis. Taken from https://www.vox.com/2016/5/25/11744768/crying-spreadsheet

Personally, I like the decision to go with the parallel set plot. Although this is a traditional visualisation technique (of which could be argued that they do not offer the same depth and connection as other types of data representations, e.g. [1,2]), the flow of the chart reminds me of the flow of her tears—probably an intentional decision.

Interestingly, this datafication experience had both positive (e.g., “I came to terms with my dissonance about being strong and sensitive at the same time.”) and negative consequences (e.g., “It became a compulsion to check the time every time I started (and stopped) crying”). Robin Weis’ reflection on the process already gives insights in what it is like to data-fy such a personal (and sensitive) experience. However, for me, it also triggers questions. For example, what other aspects could have been tracked? And what about the vanity of crying (do you gave the feeling you need to stay composed or could you fully let go)?

Sources:

The original work and article can be found here: http://robinwe.is/explorations/cry.html . Together with the more elaborate article for vox.com (content warning, the article mentions a suicide attempt): https://www.vox.com/2016/5/25/11744768/crying-spreadsheet

All quotes are taken from the vox.com article, as it contained more elaborate descriptions.

Referenced papers:

[1] Dietmar Ofenhuber. 2020. What we talk about when we talk about data physicality. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications 40, 6 (June 2020), 25–37. https://doi.org/10.1109/MCG.2020.3024146

[2] Rosa van Koningsbruggen and Eva Hornecker. 2021. “It’s Just a Graph” – The Effect of Post-Hoc Rationalisation on InfoVis Evaluation. In Creativity and Cognition (C&C ’21). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 45, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1145/3450741.3465257

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you can turn off your phone but you can’t run away

a page from a comic I wrote a while ago about surviver guilt. Sharing this here because it’s still relatable to me.

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Merry Crisis

Hi everyone, here’s a short (and kind of dramatic) text I wrote on Christmas, which is a time of year I can imagine many immigrants cry… Hope you’re all doing well and are having a nice break, and if not, it’s almost over 😉





I can’t lie, I was expecting some tears today.

I guess I’ve been expecting them for a while now, just waiting for them to creep up and take me by surprise. Well, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if I just said I’ve been expecting them. Anyway.

I woke up late and brushed my teeth; it’s too late to have breakfast, I’ll just have lunch in an hour. By then the sun will have almost set.

I like to cut vegetables up when I’m overthinking; maybe it’s just nice to have something to do with my hands. I didn’t buy onions this week, if that’s where you thought this was going.

I cook and eat and clean the dishes and have some tea. And I catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the window, sitting on the couch.

It’s Christmas Day, and I look like my mother when I put my hair up.
It’s Christmas Day, and maybe I’ll never be home again.

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Crying is the media to balance the majority and minority.

The food designer Marije Vogelzang, has launched a project before:

Eat Love Budapest

In this workshop, the women feed the stranger while they can not see arch other faces. 

It’s such a beautiful touching project, that connects the people through the most common way that almost everyone has: feeding by someone else (like the child by the mother). Tears down when the workshop ended even for me just as a watcher.

Crying is more as a private experience for me. But this time was my first time to cry just because of a workshop. 

Through the workshop, I understood the idea that it’s hard to judge someone after u went into his heart. It’s hard to hate someone if u have cried for him. Tears can really be the most powerful weapon in this world. Behind tear is the name love. 

the link to the website: https://www.marijevogelzang.nl/past-projects/eat-love-budapest/

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Le théâtre des émotions

Claude-Marie Dubufe, La Lettre de Wagram, 1827, Rouen, Réunion des Musées Métropolitains Rouen Normandie, musée des Beaux-Arts © C. Lancien, C. Loisel /Réunion des Musées Métropolitains Rouen Normandie.

Liebe Crying-Members,

wie hat sich die Darstellung von Emotion und Tränen im Laufe der Kunstgeschichte gewandelt?

Dieser Frage hat sich die Ausstellung “Theater der Emotionen” im Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris gewidmet (13.4. bis 21.8.22). Auf der Website rechts https://www.marmottan.fr/expositions/le-theatre-des-emotions/ findet sich das Téléchargez Le Dossier De Presse, 28 Seiten mit zahlreichen, teils tränenreichen Abbildungen (https://www.marmottan.fr/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/DP-TDE-PAGES-SIMPLES.pdf).

Arte hat das Thema in einem zweiminütigen Bericht zusammengefasst: https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/108886-000-A/das-theater-um-emotionen-kunst-und-gefuehle/

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Disco Tears Kiosk!

Dear criers, crying researchers, colleagues,

As already announced, this Friday, 16.12, we will gather in front of the kioks.6, Sophienstiftplatz at 6 PM. Bring your drink and come to listen to the Crying playlist created by the CI participants 🙂

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T w o I n s t a l l a t i o n s b y ………. B a r b a r a KR U G E R

PLEASE CRY, BY BARBARA KRUGER

Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) has been known since the 1970s for her large-scale graphic works featuring sharply worded statements or short texts, which she uses to examine and interrogate common social stereotypes from a feminist and consumerism-critical perspective. She addresses how images and ideas are circulated and perceived today.

In an expansive text installation, Kruger combines her own texts with quotes from George Orwell, James Baldwin, and Walter Benjamin.

In the center is a sentence taken from Orwell’s 1984 book:

“If you want an image of the future, imagine a boot trampling on a human face, forever. “

This nightmarish vision of a totalitarian state originated from Orwell, directly following the Second World War. The statement was intended as a reckoning and reflection on the National Socialist dictatorship in Germany. In his novel 1984, Orwell issued a universal and timeless warning to society to question and critisise any form of state violence and control. By citing this well-known quote, Barbara Kruger also recalls the universal dangers that can arise at any time from repressive structures and nations. Given the current war in Europe, this warning about violence brought about by a totalitarian state seems all the more prescient.

The literary quotes are accompanied by short texts written by the artist that have been adopted from social media news. They address visitors directly and refer to the discrepancies between self-perception and self-alienation, for instance, “Please cry” or “Is that all there is?”. In contrast to Mies van der Rohe’s classical and austere architecture, Kruger employs her own distinctive aesthetic while fundamentally questioning the consumer-oriented, uncritical ways of life that characterise many of today’s societies.

*Text taken from the official website of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

“Untitled (Beginning/Middle/End)” by Barbara Kruger

This project is a part of Venice Biennale 2022: The Milk of Dreams Images courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia and Sprüth Magers. Photos by Timo Ohler.

It is a large-scale text installation that includes 3 video channels.

The artist intervenes 3 official texts of the bureaucracy of the United States of America: the text to write a will, the text to venerate the flag, and the text that people recite when getting married.

Each text is on a different screen. Each text is typed letter by letter and each key word is constantly exchanged, generating possible alternatives in the reading of these “embedded literatures” in the public imagination.

The hesitation in the constant correction/editing of the animated texts is existential, humorous and also fatalistic. Each text animation is embedded in one of the 3 wall texts that make up the installation:

“IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS CRYING”

“IN THE MIDDLE THERE WAS CONFUSION”

“IN THE END THERE WAS SILENCE”

I wanted to show the work of Barbara Kruger because I consider that her work is a constant demand, a protest that works like crying, the texts that cry on the walls, the words are like tears that run through the architecture. Tantrum texts, whim letters, sounds of sobs, walls of screams.

Her texts go beyond the moral, they are not about slogans or duties, they are more questions, or existentialist sentences that open thought and generate debate and doubts. This textual vulnerability somehow resonates or echoes the vulnerability with which we cry.

Something that interests me is how the text is interrupted, how the text breaks, and how this is similar to crying. Crying is like a moment of oxygenation in which the speech is interrupted. She is interrupting the architecture, or even interrupting famous quotes, or legal texts… she is continually interrupting the text itself. She invites you to read with the body. You access the text by fragments, your body is interrupting the text. Isn’t crying the interruption of speech, or the broken linearity of thoughts?

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P e u t -ê t r e , m a i s c e n ‘e s t p a s v r a i / A u -t o r-m i e n t a

Peut-être, mais ce n’est pas vrai / Au- tor- mienta. Víctor del Oral, 2017, 2018…
Installation/performance (Lecto_escultura) at Lobby Gallery, Ecole Superieure d Art , Aix en Provence, France.

Hanging from the ceiling and just above my head, there is a black plastic bag containing 50 liters of water. As the reading progresses I pierce the bag with metal nails taped to my fingers and a constant stream of water falls on my head. It was a kind of self-inflicted storm, a brainstorm that soaks me.

I was interested in constructing an image of myself giving a speech under a black cloud, the experience of reading in a downpour, of wetting the text, bringing it to a state of vulnerability and fragility while it was being read.

In some way, it was a massive outburst of crying, an attempt to return to that primal moment, to that point of origin, the crying of a newborn at birth, that first vocalization we make when we are still covered in placenta.

Text: poems by Víctor del Oral.

This performance has been presented twice, one in Lobby Gallery, Ecole Superieure d Art , Aix en Provence, France, and another in the Obrera Centro cultural space in Mexico City, 2018.

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MY GRANDMOTHER AND ME

My Grandmother and Me, Víctor del Oral, 2016
B/W Photograph. Digital Print. Variable dimensions

One gesture, two images. A portrait and a self-portrait. A combination of two photographs taken in the same year. In the image on the left, me crying, a moment of loneliness, sadness and anguish. In the image on the right, a photo of my grandmother crying with joy at the baptism of her first great-granddaughter.

Despite the fact that the reasons for crying are very different, one of pain, the other of happiness, the gesture is the same. This point is the central axis of this work: the closest two points in the circumference of a circle are, at the same time, the two points furthest away from each other. How is it possible that similar forms can carry different meanings ?

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Das Grün meiner Tränen

illustriert von Jeremy Wiener

Weinen verläuft nicht konstant linear, es lässt fließen, was mehrschichtig ist. Es handelt sich dabei nicht nur um eine einzige Art von emotionalen Tränen, sondern hunderten, die durch die verschiedensten Verformungsstationen laufen. Viele davon werden zigmal hinterfragt, ob sie ausreichend aufrichtig und angemessen sind, damit sie fließen dürfen. Danach fließen sie. Und dann wird nochmal hinterfragt. Auch gibt es welche, die kommen durch ein kleines Lächeln zustande. Sie quellen mit den anderen Tränen der Trauer, des Frusts, der Überforderung zusammen über, weil man ja irgendwie die kleinlich wirkenden Impulse der netten Erleichterung im Angesicht der grundverwirrenden Krise auch noch rausschießen muss.

Das Weinwasser füllt meinen Raum. Je mehr an Niederschlag fällt und sich an Hitze entfaltet, desto tropischer wird es. Ein Klima, worauf meine Pflanze reagiert. Kurz doch: Sie reagiert nicht auf das Klima, sondern ursprünglich auf meine Tränen. Vielleicht weine ich nicht (nur) für mich, sondern auch für meine Pflanze. Bedauernswert, aber warum sollte ich sonst für mich weinen? Sie versucht, ihr eigenes Wasser loszuwerden – wie ich meines – zu transpirieren, damit sie sich versorgt. So muss es bedeuten, dass ich für mich weine, damit ich mich selbst umsorge, wenn kein anderer Mensch mit mir weint oder mir Aufmerksamkeit schenkt. Aufmerksamkeit kommt nicht immer nur von Menschen. Alles kann eine Projektionsfläche fürs eigene Geweine sein – Worte, Blicke, Ideen, Erinnerungen, Träume, Nostalgien, Infantilisierungen, Dystopien, Verwirrungen, Besuche, Haustiere oder eben auch Pflanzen. Egal, ob die Pflanze über mich denkt oder sie überhaupt nicht denkt, weil sie gerade und für immer einfach nicht die Nerven hat, sie muss genauso die Situation kompensieren, wie ich es tue. Ich stecke sie an und der Gedanke darüber, dass sie von mir angesteckt wird, infiziert mich weiter.

Es wird immer feuchter und stickiger im Raum. Ein Druck entsteht, der mich ans Bett klammert und mich weiter heulen lässt. Für sie reicht es nicht mehr aus, Wasserdampf auszustoßen, es tropft nun bei ihr. Durch meinen fetten Tränenfilm hindurch wie bei einer Brille mit zu starken Linsen blicke ich auf die Blätter der Pflanze mit ihren Zacken. Sie sehen aus wie Wimpern und schlagen sich schwer, die dicken Tropfen, die sie festhalten, auch wirklich nicht loszulassen.

Aber das Blatt hält es nicht aus, meine Lider schließen sich, der Tropfen fällt.

Obwohl sie nur zusätzlich Wasser verliert, will ich darin etwas sehen – ein Zeichen, eine mystische Offenbarung, irgendetwas, was auf mich reagiert, es mir gleichtut und mir mehr gibt. Ich benetze den Raum nicht nur mit immer mehr Tränensekret, sondern lasse wimmernde Geräusche hineinpoltern – auch hier, schätze ich, absorbiert meine Pflanze als würde sie Musik hören … ich weiß nicht wirklich, was sie davon hält. Hinterlässt sie eine Salzkruste auf ihrem Blatt, so hinterlasse ich das auch. Es muss trocknen und salzig schmecken, damit ich dann mit feuchter Tinte bittersüße Wörter schreiben kann.

Die Pflanze umsorgt sich somit in einer Krisensituation, dabei denke ich, dasselbe auch zu tun. Dass trotz momentanen Zerbrechens, ich danach frischer und reiner bin. Voller neuer Nährstoffe. Es greifen Momente der Realisierung, dass das nicht für immer ist, sie aufhört mit dem, was sie tut, und ich dennoch weiter weine – wieder allein gelassen zu werden. Vielleicht brauche ich länger als sie. Manchmal halte ich mein Weinen für lächerlich, aber ich lasse es zu, damit ich etwas habe, um danach zu lachen. Wer darf bewerten, ob meine Tränen echt sind oder ob ich weinen darf, wenn ich‘s doch selbst nicht weiß?

Und schließlich hörte ich auf zu weinen.

Was es auch immer war, was sich nun zum Fluss ergab,

hält sich nun als Nebel bereit,

die Gefühlssphären anderer Weinender zu bewandern

Befeuchtend Verklumpend Erstickend

damit Nächste sie im hellen Liegen absorbieren,

wartend bis ihre Tränensuppen versiegen,

um den Grund zu sehen.

von Jeremy Wiener