Strange world of the crying game
PORT Douglas artist Tina Gonsalves has won a grant to explore the world and record her discoveries of culturally diverse professional funeral criers for her series ‘‘Yoke’’.
While completing a residency in Chongqing China, Ms Gonsalves discovered professional funeral mourners and hired eight to cry and filmed them.
‘‘In China the old ways are coming back out through the culture. In China it’s all about noise; the more noise is made the more you’re loved.
‘‘It’s very dramatic, they throw themselves on the ground and whack their head and scream to the heavens,’’ she said.
‘‘Now the project has been given an Australian Art Council grant to extend the project, to go and explore professional funeral mourners around the world.
‘‘A lot of my work over the last 15 to 20 years has been about the emotional body and what it says about culture, because emotions are a huge part of our lives, part of the glue that brings us together and I want to pull it apart and look at it from different angles.’’
Ms Gonsalves will be travelling around the world, leaving in a couple of weeks, to study professional mourners in Rajasthan India, Kenya, and the Middle East to incorporate with the Chinese mourners.
‘‘We are off to England to see a company called rent a mourner. They’re not a funeral crier but they hire people to come to a funeral to show a little bit of emotion. In the UK it’s all about the numbers,’’ she said.
‘‘There are some in Sardinia, but it’s quite limited researching from here, and potentially Israel to see the funeral mourner in the Orthodox Jewish communtiy.
‘‘The traditions and rituals say a lot about a country and I’m also interested in the transaction of payment.
‘‘ I still haven’t got my head around it, grief is such a personal thing and a lot of people attend funerals and to have people coming in to act out this grief is very interesting. Their role is to help other people cry, because when you see people cry it’s hard not to cry yourself, we are sensitive little creatures.’’
While overseas Ms Gonsalves will be visiting art galleries and giving talks at universities and sharing what’s happening in the artistic world in Australia and bring back what is happening overseas while developing her video installation and performance aspect of ‘‘Yoke’’.
Professional funeral mourners of Chongqing, China