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Time River Blue Mouths Infinite Absence: Madness, Grief, Art

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Time River Blue Mouths Infinite Absence: Madness, Grief, ArtMcMaster University Libraries, MacSphere | ON | 2015
Benjamin Gallagher

"This thesis explores social conceptions of madness, drawing on theorists such as Tobin Siebers, Sara Ahmed, Lynne Huffer and Ann Cvetkovich, and engaging with works of art by people who have been involved in mental healthcare in some way. There is a simultaneous exploration of my process of grieving Zoë's death, drawing on the tradition of autocritique by writers such as bell hooks, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and others. Chapter one looks at poetry produced by the Workman Arts Group and a zine by Anna Quon, investigating the impact of diagnoses of mental illness on the reception of art and artists, as well as the history of silencing and confinement of mad bodies. Chapter two explores the memoirs of Bobby Baker and Merri Lisa Johnson, emphasizing the impact of diagnosis on those not already marginalized by society, and drawing attention to the kinds of communities that memoirs produce, as well as the connection between community, capitalism, and the grievability of life. Chapter three looks at the paintings, performance art and installations of Yayoi Kusama to complicate the connection between madness and celebrity power, as well as Kusama's own engagement with death and infinity. I conclude by looking briefly at the deaths of Michael Brown and Robin Williams, and again at my own grief one year after Zoë's death."


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McMaster University Libraries, MacSphere

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