Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party Carla Issue 6
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews:
Made in L.A. 2016
Doug Aitken Electric Earth
Mertzbau

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
Mark A. Rodruigez
The Weeping Line
Molly Larkey, Aaron Horst,
Keith J. Varadi, Katie Bode,
Stuart Krimko, Matt Stromberg
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Hana Cohn, Eli Diner,
Claire De Dobay Rifelj,
Katie Bode, Molly Larkey,
Keith J. Varadi
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj,
Matt Stromberg, Hana Cohn,
Lindsay Preston Zappas,
Simone Krug, Keith Vaughn,
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece of the Puzzle Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Eli Diner, Jonathan Griffin,
Don Edler, Aaron Horst
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Benjamin Lord, Aaron Horst, Stephen Kent
Top-Down Bottom-Up Jenny Gagalka
Snap Reviews Aaron Horst, Char Jansen, Randy Rice, Lindsay Preston Zappas
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee
William Pope.L’s Reenactor
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
MEAT PHYSICS/
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
VESSEL // CINS and
VESSEL // PERF
Ben Medansky
I've been a lot of places,
seen so many faces
Nora Slade
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Catherine Wagley, Keith Vaughn, Aaron Horst, Kate Wolf, Mateo Tannatt, Evan Moffitt, Cal Siegel
We’re in This Together Lauren Cherry & Max Springer
Distribution
Downtown
ARTBOOK @ Hauser Wirth
    & Schimmel
917 E. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Central Park
412 W. 6th St. #615
Los Angeles, CA 90014

CES Gallery
711 Mateo St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Cirrus Gallery
2011 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Château Shatto
406 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Club Pro
1525 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Fahrenheit
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Geffen Contemporary
    & at MOCA
152 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Harmony Murphy
358 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

LACA
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

MAMA
1242 Palmetto St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Mistake Room
1811 E. 20th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90058

MOCA Grand Avenue
250 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Night Gallery
2276 E. 16th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Box
805 Traction Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wilding Cran Gallery
939 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Chinatown
A.G. Geiger
502 Chung King Ct.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

EMBASSY
422 Ord St., Suite G
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Human Resources
410 Cottage Home St.
Los Angeles CA, 90012

Ooga Booga
943 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Mid-City
1301PE
6150 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Chainlink Gallery
1051 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Commonwealth and Council
3006 W. 7th St. #220
Los Angeles CA 90005

David Kordansky Gallery
5130 W. Edgewood Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

HILDE
4727 W. Washington
Los Angeles, CA 90016

JOAN
4300 W. Jefferson Blvd. #1
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1201 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

ltd Los Angeles
1119 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Marc Foxx
6150 Wilshire Blvd. #5
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Martos Gallery
3315 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

Ochi Projects
3301 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

The Landing
5118 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Park View
836 S. Park View St. Unit 8
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Skibum MacArthur
712 S. Grand View St., #204
Los Angeles, CA 90057

SPRÜTH MAGERS
5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Underground Museum
3508 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

VACANCY
2524 1/2 James M. Wood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Visitor Welcome Center
3006 W. 7th St., Suite #200A
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Culver City
Arcana Books
8675 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Blum and Poe
2727 S. La Cienega
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Cherry and Martin
2712 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Honor Fraser
2622 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Klowden Mann
6023 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Luis De Jesus
2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

MiM Gallery
2636 La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Roberts and Tilton
5801 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Samuel Freeman
2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Susanne Vielmetter
6006 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Silverlake/ Echo Park
Smart Objects
1828 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Otherwild
1768 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Hollywood
Diane Rosenstein
831 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Family Books
436 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

GAVLAK
1034 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hannah Hoffman
1010 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

LAXART
7000 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90038

M+B
612 N. Almont Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Mier
1107 Greenacre Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Moskowitz Bayse
743 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd.
LLos Angeles, CA 90038

Shulamit Nazarian
616 N. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Various Small Fires
812 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Westside
18th Street Arts
1639 18th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis
    &College of Art and Design
9045 Lincoln Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Christopher Grimes Gallery
916 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

DXIX Projects
519 Santa Clara Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90291

Five Car Garage
(Emma Gray HQ)

Team (Bungalow)
306 Windward Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Eastside
ACME
2939 Denby Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

ESXLA
602 Moulton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90031

SADE
204 S. Avenue 19
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Boyle Heights
BBQLA
2315 Jesse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Chimento Contemporary
622 S. Anderson St., #105
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ibid.
670 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ooga Twooga
356 Mission Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
1326 S. Boyle Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Museum as Retail Space (MaRS)
649 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Nicodim Gallery
571 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Venus Over Los Angeles
601 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Pasadena/ Glendale/ Valley
The Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103

Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Ave.
Valley Glen, CA 91401

Natural
15168 Raymer St.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

The Pit
918 Ruberta Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201

Hot Tears

Why It Is So Hard to Make Artwork About Crying

Cry Baby. Dir. John Waters. Perf. Johnny Depp (1990).

Film still from Cry Baby (1990). Video.

Coming to the weeping itself, cover the face decorously, using both hands, palms inward. Children are to cry with the sleeve of the dress or shirt pressed against the face, preferably in a corner of the room. Average duration of the cry, three minutes.

— Julio Cortázar, Instructions on How to Cry, Historias de Cronopios y de Famas

On October 3rd, 2013 something terrible happened to me. A few days later it got much worse. I wept like weeping was keeping me alive and I wept like it was the end of my life. It was the kind of crying that you do when your world is changed suddenly and irreparably in a way that is out of your control, not your fault, and you didn’t see coming. I cried more than I didn’t for the many months that followed, siphoning a seemingly bottomless reservoir, often waking myself up in the middle of the night with tight cheeks and a warm, wet shirt collar. It’s hard to imagine feelings like this ever ebbing, though of course everything does. My mother says: If it’s not over, it’s not the end.

I became interested in crying as a subject for art. How could I not? It absorbed the majority of my time and energy well into the following year. I avoided it as an “idea” at first, feeling that to “create something” of the experience would be a predictable flattening out, a making-cute of my own desperate and desperately private situation. I feared turning my pain into a metaphor for my pain. Roland Barthes pondered a similar aversion in the a journal he kept after the death of his beloved mother, Henriette: “I don’t want to talk about it, for fear of making literature out of it—or without being sure of not doing so—although as a matter of fact literature originates with these truths.”

Although as a matter of fact literature originates with these truths…I relent. I began to

think about how we cry in the face of art, and vice versa. A few notes down in my

own journal from this time, faithfully re-­recorded here:

Crying: as ends or a means in A–R–T?

Can tears be harnessed as material? Can crying be an action rather than a symbol? (Kiki Smith’s emissions)

Notable: emotions are called “feelings”/internal touch

ABJECTing…exuding liquid uncontrollably from body (satisfying, gross, entire).

Can WOMEN make work about crying?

Tear, rhythms with near & tear, rhythms with bear. Something here?

The correct unit of ‘relatable’ sadness when making work is                  . Things we shed: tears, light, blood (partially buried woodshed)

Why not make work about it?????

Roger Beebe, Still from (The Story of My Misfortunes), Part 2: The Crying Game (2014). Image courtesy of the artist.

Roger Beebe, film still from (The Story of My Misfortunes), Part 2: The Crying Game (2014). Image courtesy of the artist.

The experimental filmmaker Roger Beebe, whose 2014 film Historia Calamitatum (The Story of My Misfortunes), Part 2: The Crying Game I would encounter a year and a half after scribbling that list, recently wrote me in an email as a part of a larger exchange. He said, “I had a crying session in 1999 that was euphoric; I decided then I wanted to stop shutting down those pleasures. The film was a desire to address and overcome the pathologization of tears. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CATHARSIS?” Beebe’s film charts, in bright text on a black screen, all of the things that made him cry in a single year: “More sports-related tears this morning, although it was only a welling-up this time around; Three hours post tears I’ve already forgotten the exact cause; Real crying today; Cried When Bonnie left after our dinner hangout; Cried when telling my mom about our breakup; Cried (more than a few tears) this morning during breakfast while watching Cindy Sheehan get into a shoving match with an old veteran in uniform…” The artist’s own body is noticeably absent, while emotional clips from A League of Their Own or various athletes tearing up at ESPN press conferences periodically flash across the screen instead.

And so the most obvious place to start my search was in film, that great stockpile of tears-for-art. I began studying actors and actresses crying on camera. It turns out there is crying in almost every movie; it’s hard to win an Oscar without doing it. I look to performers for tips on how to cry.[1] What strategies do they use to draw “real” tears forth (thinking about dead dads, menthol under the eyes)? Wistful, caged whimpering and all-out collapse are the methods of choice in Hollywood; Reese Witherspoon is a master at both. I feel appreciative for Reese’s willing demonstration of vulnerability and also resentful that it’s voluntary. She chooses to emote on the basis of her “craft.” Control is King. I imagined her practicing in the mirror. I imagine her director’s swift praise.

Seeking out visual art that pictures crying is not as easy a task. The most prominent example is, of course, Bas Jan Ader’s I’m Too Sad To Tell You (1972). The black and white, three-minute film pictures the twenty-nine year old artist inaudibly weeping, swaying in and out of the sorrow spell. Ader simultaneously performs for the camera and refuses to acknowledge it; the device is there to bear witness and nothing more. It’s a stark and moving act, in part because it comes from a man, in part because the source of the sadness is less important than the feeling itself, and in part because we know Ader will be dead within the next three years (a result of this same melancholic inquiry). It’s still the consummate example of an artwork that is about, or at least evidences, the act of crying. Other notable works that fit in this grouping: Jesper Just’s video, No Man is an Island II (2004), in which he filmed professional opera singers in a dimly-lit strip club, each belting out Roy Orbison’s song Crying (one of the singers does), and Laurel Nakadate’s project, 365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears (2010), in which the artist photographed herself shedding tears each day (or, as PS1 stated in their catalog of her exhibition, “taking part in the sadness each day”). It’s hard to compete with I’m Too Sad but of the three examples, Nakadate’s feels like the weakest creative inquest, more intent on performing sadness than inhabiting it. Then again, maybe I’m predisposed to find male crying more “interesting” or uniquely vulnerable? My judgment is suspect. I have a hard time coming up with other examples.

The focus on my interest was artwork that pictures crying, not artwork that causes crying. However in the midst of this reconnaissance I re-read Andrea Fraser’s moving 2004 essay Why Does Fred Sandbeck’s Work Make Me Cry? and underlined these early lines, which lead into the titular question: “When I got to the galleries with the installations of [Sandbeck’s] work, I started to cry. I sat down on a bench there, and I wept. Why did Fred Sandbeck’s work make me cry?” (Fraser also recalls weeping in the Louvre in 1985, a few years later while looking at Rembrandts at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and finally at the Alte Pinotek in Munich in 1993). Her answer of course is complex and mutable. I re-traced it, looking for clues that I might transpose into artwork itself. Among other things, Fraser reckons with her own career critiquing institutions that house such meaningful work, clarifies the distinction between crying, tearing, and weeping, which includes both crying and tearing, and considers how art of all kinds can point us toward feelings of profound loss, guilt, beauty, violence, mourning, sensitivity, pleasure, melancholy and fleshiness. Almost a decade later Francine Prose wrote an essay about Marina Abramović’s three month performance at MoMA (and the subsequent film, also titled The Artist is Present). Considering why dozens of viewers cried while sitting across from Abramović, Prose writes, “Alienated, unmoored, we seek our salvation, one by one, from the artist who brings us the comforting news: I see you. I weep when you weep.” I picture Ader’s camera, his singular and affirmative testifier.

Feature_hot tears_03

Roger Beebe, film still from (The Story of My Misfortunes), Part 2: The Crying Game (2014). Image courtesy of the artist.

I start to record my weeps. To express with tears, as defined by my pocket dictionary. My therapist says: “An artist’s impulse!” Some cries last up to twenty minutes, though most are shorter. I am terrified someone will catch on; a double humiliation. Once, I temporarily lose my phone and become convinced the audio tracks have been hijacked and put on the Internet, an idea that naturally makes me cry more. Listening to the recording on playback feels as difficult and uncanny as you might imagine. I try to transcribe them, to make language of pre-language, but the work goes nowhere. I attempt other strategies: drawing while I cry, collecting my tears on paper and glass, assembling images of strangers crying from the news, photographing myself while weeping. Who hasn’t tried that one? I tentatively showed those images to a former employer of mine, a very well known photographer, who admitted she attempted the same thing years before. “Hasn’t everyone?” she asked, inadvertently affirming my fear that these attempts, however faithfully intended, are shallow and solipsistic.

Beebe followed up with another email a few days after the first one, responding this time to the question of his own non-present body. “I did shoot some footage of me crying, but turning the cameras and lights on always made the tears feel a little forced or it shut them down altogether. And even though at some level there’s a lot of me in the video (in voiceover, in the diary text), I wanted to be able to keep gesturing to the ways in which this is a bigger set of questions and issues in our culture. Images of me would’ve surely tipped the balance.”

I responded, in part: “I’ve been thinking more about physical absence. In terms of the body, of course, but also the absence of tears. I suspect they have something to do with each other.”

And of course they do. To this end, Fraser ultimately concludes that Sandbeck’s installations engender tears through their lack. “By removing himself to the extent that he does, he makes a place for me, ” she writes in the final paragraphs of her essay. I’m Too Sad To Tell You was originally titled Cry Claremont, a reference to where Ader went to school and filmed the work; did the word “cry” likewise take up too much emotionally determined real estate? If the process of creative production is an interplay between withholding and generosity, perhaps in the image of another person crying we cannot locate enough space of our own for the feeling (note that Abramović never cries, but acts rather as a mirror). More than the fear of being trite, or of turning our very real feelings into the rites of literature, we fear letting the tension go out of a creative act. Perhaps by describing crying in visual art—through actually picturing it—we deliver a work that in some ways has already resolved (or dissolved) itself, that exists in a state of post–climax. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CATHARSIS? In some real and embodied sense, crying marks the point of moving past the problem and into its release. As artists, that position does not—can not—belong to us.

[1]Though this is the province of another essay, there is a remarkable industry built up around teaching actors how to cry on demand.There are plenty of tips on this for aspiring actors on the Internet, but I found the best instruction came from fiction. “In order to cry,” wrote Julio Cortezar in his book Cronopias y Famas, “steer the imagination toward yourself, and if this proves impossible owing to having contracted the habit of believing in the exterior world, think of a duck covered with ants or of those gulfs in the Strait of Magellan into which no one sails ever.”

 

Originally Published in Carla Issue 2