How to make an ocean?

KASIA MOLGA, since 2019

To quote a curator Lars Rummel: “The installation creates a space that allows a profoundly human experience without the need to fear the consequences: crying. It reaches out to all who mourn regardless of the reason – to make a connection, create awareness, and have a space to grieve: where no tear is shed in vain. Life and joy can grow out of sorrow – be it energetically, spiritually, or emotionally, it always leads to growth and transformations.”

From Winter of 2019 until recently Kasia Molga has been collecting her tears – first when she cried after losing 3 loved ones in the Autumn 2019. Then with the start of COVID-19 she “trained herself” to cry in order to relieve her anxiety. And then to explore the chemical composition of human tears to see how they could make a healthy tiny marine ecosystem. To use her own tears to host a sea life became a form of catharsis and a constructive way to deal with personal and also then environmental loss. In addition to that Kasia started investigating how her mental health (and level of the aforementioned anxiety) is affected by the narrative of her “online life” – news & info feeds which were curated by algorithms. She started to wonder whether she could use this to cry and thus feed her mini-oceans.

The result: an experience, set in a 4 parts.

There are 30 to 50 tiny bottles – each contains my tears and a North Sea algae. Each has a date, a reason for crying and the name of hosted algae. There is a log of Kasia’s diet from the period of the research, accompanied by a log of presence of chemical elements (N, P, K) important for healthy growth of algae. These elements can be regulated by a diet. Artist wanted to know how she could use her bodily waste to care for the environment, which we have destroyed? The main question she posed here was: “Can I look after my physical and mental health in order to be of ‘use’ to other life forms? Or can environmental health be an indicator of our own health.”

A space for a visitor to relax, reflect and to maybe shed some tears. There is a comfortable chair, the set of Tools for Tears Assesment on the table next to the chair and in front there awaits an AI Moirologist.
More about it on Moirologist Bot page here.

When ready to harvest tears – or to donate them – one needs tools to catch them, store them, asses their chemical composition (and nutritional value) to match them with the right type of algae, then to mix them with a drop of sea water and algae and place them under some light for a while before closing the tiny bottle.
More about Tools for Tears’ Assesment & The Mini-Ocean Lab here.

It is a form of a guided mediation for a group of 10 to 15, led by Kasia in collaboration with the Moirologist Bot, using queues and prompts which I have learnt about while researching what makes us cry. More about the Workshop-Performance here.


My Tears

I would like to share two of my personal works about tears.
The first one is my self-portrait and tears of anger.
 About the identity and pain of women.

Tears can express many emotions, but in this work they are tears of anger.
I often feel cut off, vulnerable and aggressive at the same time, or that both genders are in the same body, which is why I shed tears of anger and sadness.
I agree with the Japanese sociologist Chizuko Ueno’s saying that women are a situation, and the dilemmas faced by women and men do not correspond, because a woman’s suffering stems from the fact that she herself is a woman, while a man’s suffering often stems from the fact that he is not a big man on top.
The tears recorded in the form of paintings express the same point of view. Women’s tears are not always an expression of vulnerability, at least not in this work of mine, because I know clearly that the reason why I shed tears of anger is because of my internal helplessness and pain about my biological gender as a woman, and secondly, these tears are also an expression of wanting to resist.

Next is another work of mine called “Tears of Discipline”.

After a painful and sad tear, I used a mirror and a camera to record the tears and habitually wondered: Is it beautiful for me to shed tears like this?

There were many clips from movies and dramas in my mind, and following these clues I searched for information that surprised me. It turned out that many of the messages I received during my growing up process were processed and disciplined, even tears were disciplined.

I am against regulated tears.
Tears are a natural flow of emotions.
Not an action to cater to the male gaze.


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. (2015). 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.

Oriana R. Aragón, Margaret S. Clark, Rebecca L. Dyer, and John A. Bargh 2015: Dimorphous Expressions of Positive Emotion: Displays of Both Care and Aggression in Response to Cute Stimuli, in: Psychological Science, Vol. 26(3), pp. 259–273, DOI: 10.1177/0956797614561044,