A Public Feeling


3’57” HD video loop
Collaboration with Maia Chao.

Everyday life generates feelings of despair and anxiety which become internalized and labeled as depression. In therapy culture, these feelings are traced back to childhood trauma or medicalized as a biochemical disorder located outside the individual’s control. But these frameworks do not account for the socio-political forces of depression, which queer theorist Ann Cvetkovich examines in her book, Depression: A Public Feeling, asking, “How do I feel? How does capitalism feel?”

We're interested in how a public feeling is forced to become a private feeling. In this 3:57 video loop, we examine the obscured connections between personal and collective despair, asking how abstract talk of permanent war and environmental crisis comes to bear on the lived experience. The overlaid graphics map the interrelations of holiday shopping statistics, carbon footprints, the promised escape of cheap airfare, and muscle aches. We borrow from the visual language of health and lifestyle advertising, seeking a reparative process of recognizing, examining, and illustrating our shared pain.

Actor: Zoë Chao