TRISTITIA – The wholesome sorrow
These images address cultural ideas of melancholy, especially those that involve the notion of melancholy as an aesthetic emotion or ideal and lead directly from an earlier series concerning “ The Sublime” as these two ideas share some common cultural history, characteristics and ambiguities.
The term melancholy covers a whole range of emotions and mindsets from nostalgia (The Greeks) to mourning (Freud) and everything in nuances that lie between. A theme that occurs throughout all the different cultures and time scales (Chinese, Greek, Roman, Medieval to the modern day via Shakespeare and Keats is the term “ Ubi Sunt”. This is shorthand for the longer phrase “Ubi Sunt qui ante nos fuerunt” or “Where are those who were before us“. This phrase has persisted as a lament or sometimes a nostalgic reverie but more importantly for me, a question. I have tried to make images that have this question as a central part of their aesthetic structure without drifting into any notions of pathos that photography can have a tendency towards,
This series will attempt to argue that melancholy is a chosen state of mind that can be enjoyed and even used in art as opposed to depression or sadness that are states of being over which the sufferer has no choice or control.