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  • Writer's pictureCristea Zhao

C-1. Online Dossier

In this first online dossier I mainly focus on loss and the tasks of mourning. We are precarious creatures. The fact there’re ‘ineradicable dimensions of human dependency and sociality’ in us determines that we are always exposed to the vulnerability being susceptible to the loss of others. When we are facing the loss, we are forced to deal with our detachment from others. Here, grief and the task of mourning comes into play. In the very first work systematically introducing mourning, Freud suggested mourning is a psychic process of us withdrawing libido from the loss. Similar idea was demonstrated in Derrida’s writings on mourning: when we mourn, the Other becomes a part of us. we interiorize the alterity the Other possesses.

On the other hand, we conduct mourning as a reaction to cope with not only a lost person that we used to love, but also for the loss of ‘some abstraction…such as one’s country, liberty, an ideal, and so on’. This definition opens up a new potential to the spectrum of loss. The loss we are experiencing individually is of intuitions, but here, we are no longer dealing with our psyches, but something of socio-political relations. Indeed, through the tension of our current situation, we are more and more experiencing the loss that ‘apprehended the modern and postmodern epoch of loss- characterized by the fragmentation of grand narratives’. The intuitive logic of ‘an object past away, then it follows by grief and mourning’ doesn’t stand in this occasion, but a static paradox where the past is past but it has not past. We are still in the aftershock of the history, and we are still actively engaging with it.

The predecessors I listed are mostly performance, video and installation works. Artists like Tiyan and Pho’s explore their lost cultural identity by listening, artists like Song Dong and Au Hoi Lam mourn for and commemorate their father’s death through creating a imaginary, unreal re-connection, meanwhile artist like Gina Pane intended to reclaim our lost primitive instinct through her body. Through personal narratives, and through body, these artists investigate what is loss, and what does it mean to lose.

 

Reference:

1 Butler, Judith. Precarious Life : The Powers of Mourning and Violence. (London ; New York: Verso, 2003), 14.


2 Butler, Judith. "Violence, Mourning, Politics." Studies in Gender and Sexuality 4, no. 1 (2003): 9-37.


3 Freud, Sigmund, Freud, Anna, Richards, Angela., and Strachey, James. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press, 1953.


4 Eng, David L., and Kazanjian, David. Loss : The Politics of Mourning. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003)


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