This video series is a work in progress, and part of my current research on the ban of lamentation. It consists of the “Electra Project 1″ where I carry my mother, and “The good enough mother1-4″ (after Winnicot) on pre-adolescent lamentations.
In ancient Athens, public displays of mourning including lamentation were a punishable offense, with two exceptions: funeral dirges and tragedy. Funeral dirges were performed by professional mourning women that were allowed to wail by using predefined verses and lyrics only. In tragedy, female laments and wails were performed by men and for men only. With the emergence of the medical discourse of hysteria in the 19th century, female lamentation broke into the public sphere. The hysterical theater became a form of resistance. Hysteria was the starting point for psychoanalysis and reduced female bewail to the deprivation of the phallus. In my research I intend to analyze the structure of ‘legitimate’ female laments, the transgression of hysteria, and its reinforcement by psychoanalysis. I’ll utilize the gesture and structure of tragic laments, Freud’s studies on hysteria, and contemporary feminist laments. Every oppression is a possible point of resistance, hence if I can identify it I can deconstruct it and map the trajectory of oppression through the ban of lamentation. I want to break the ban and find ways to develop forms of lamentation in the public sphere.
My research originates from my interest in tragedy and the politics of narrative. I am concerned with forms of storytelling, how story structure is formative to meaning, and how form actually carries ideology.
The ban of lamentation refers specifically to the public sphere and ultimately includes all lamentations. Every strike, riot, protest, and revolution can be perceived as public lamentation and is oppressed or codified accordingly by the ruling class. However the first and possibly therefore the most fundamental lamentation is the female lamentation. Gender seems to precede class.