Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bas Jan Ader's I'm too sad to tell you

"Ader sent this photograph of himself crying in the form of postcards to friends and acquaintances. Only the date and the message, "I'm too sad to tell you" were written on the reverse. Alternative wording he considered at the time included: "the space between us fills my heart with intolerable grief" and "the thoughts of our inevitable and seperate deaths fill my heart with intolerable grief." I'm too Sad...hinges not on the source of the artist's tears but on the re enacting of his private sadness for the camera. The image depends on the artifice and melodrama of the artist's act of placing himself before the camera while crying. As such, it questions our notions of authenticity in expression-- how is it that Ader convinces us he is sincere? through a denial of information-- "im too sad to tell you"-- Ader creates a sense of limitlessness in the extenet and source of grief and imaginative gap that we are forced to fill for ourselves with our own experience of sadness. As critic James Roberts has written: 'thre reason for his real crying is "a secret" known only by a few close friends but it is apparently important that we know there IS a reason.'"

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