Strange world of the crying game

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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