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The aesthetics of simplicity: Yang's Sadness and the melancholic community
journal contributionposted on 2006-02-01, 00:00 authored by Gilbert CaluyaGilbert Caluya
Through an aesthetically-grounded reading of William Yang's Sadness, this essay attempts to explore the ways in which Sadness intervenes in the ethics and politics of grief as an art work. Rather than interpreting Yang's work as autobiography, I attempt to reframe this in terms of loss. Drawing on the work of photography theorists such as Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag, I analyse Sadness in terms of what I call an aesthetics of simplicity, which mobilises the realism of photographic and anecdotal detail to present the uniqueness and particularity of Yang's subjects. I use this aesthetic grounding to explore the ways in which Sadness affectively intervenes into the politics of mourning, by building affective alliances not just within a particular minority community but across communities, what I call the melancholic community.