Gertrude Stein wrote how emotional paragraphs are generally made up of unemotional sentences. There is something true to this beyond writing.
Everything can be broken up into mechanical sub-categories of dispassionate particles: The funeral is made up of black fabric, which was mass-produced in India. The wedding is made up of glasses and plates that were ordered from the event supplier. A birth is made up of an epidural anesthesia.
The sentences: the black fabric, the wine glasses, the large needle need only move or behave in the slightest manner, be touched by a certain protagonist, or lie next to another sentence before they gain momentum and form a paragraph. And you can be sure that most of those paragraphs go down a predictable path: the polyester black fabric becomes the hotel ‘do not disturb sign’ for the widow’s tears, the wine glasses shatter on the floor while chatter about divorce permeates, and the anesthesia, well, is there to numb, so there must be something awfully painful to numb.
The sentences tend to flow down common crevices. And the common knowledge of those sentences bring them together into large paragraphical waterfalls.
It’s the ease of the river’s current that Tyra Tingleff avoids in her paintings. Each layer of paint is a sentence that quickly gains momentum. So, she diverges it with the introduction of a new sentence and then the next. The moment a stream picks up speed, it is branched off into another direction. And so when tragic mourning tickles the seams of the black fabric, Tingleff might submerge it under the ocean where a few tears won’t make a difference.
But that’s just a metaphor, because we are of course talking about painting. An English sentence tends to run left to right, and its paragraph top to bottom. A painting’s sentence doesn’t follow English, Asian or Arabic guidelines, it moves at free will, left right, up and down all at once. Its paragraphs move forward, towards you away from the wall. The sentences run right on top of each other, blocking, correcting and negotiating their disagreements. They are unruly siblings, sometimes letting another speak, to only later rudely cut in, bulldozing anything in its path. The painting’s sentences have hacked each other into halves, their speech split into quarters, and their words folded into eighths.
Emotional paragraphs are made up of unemotional sentences. Could we call each accumulation of fragmented sentences a paragraph? It’s not emotionless, it’s just a letter pasted together from thousands of newspaper clippings, each typed character came from another story perhaps about a death, a wedding or a birth. They were selected, cut out, pasted onto the paper, packed and sent out. I gave the postman your name. And when you open it you’ll see that they are paragraphs to be sure.
Text by Anna Szaflarski