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Inside Out: Sentimentality

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Greetings BR&S!

I’m J.R. Uretsky and in the studio today I am working on a new segment of my performance series titled, Women I’ve Known, Biblically.

I have been thinking about sentimental artworks and found this great article by Nada Gatalo.

I see sentiment as a tool, and I want my performances and videos to act as situations that evoke sentimental feelings while simultaneously being the "…consequence of its [the works]sentimentality."

Gatalo explains, "The moral critique of sentimentality is most extensively developed by David Pugmire, who claims that sentimentality is immoral because it is dishonest. Pugmire argues that in sentimentalizing we are deliberately entertaining a distorted perception of an object for the sake of a desired emotional experience, and we may very well be privy and indifferent to the fact that we are doing so. Moreover, sentimental emotions lack the psychological commitments of standard emotions. Therefore, in indulging these emotions we are also being dishonest about our own emotional state.

Sentimental dishonesty consists in misplacing emotion "not through confusion or mere ignorance but through an indulgent and even insistent disregard for its misplacement."

To summarize, sentimental art evokes a desired emotional response by idealizing its subject, thereby obscuring factual and moral truths about it. It is a response that is based on corrupt emotional reasoning and that lacks the psychological commitments of genuine emotions."

Gatalo’s paper has me thinking about a few things…

So, what happens when art is sentimental and self-aware?

Can a failed aesthetic be repurposed into a radical point of departure? Think J. Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure.

Anyway, I am looking forward to my performance on Tuesday, more posts to come!

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JR Uretsky is December's artist in residence on Big Red & Shiny's blog series, Inside Out.

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