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The Anarchy of Emotion: Walter Oliver, photography exhibit opening

  • The Creativity Caravan 28 South Fullerton Avenue Montclair, NJ, 07042 United States (map)

Anarchy is defined as a "a state of disorder due to the absence or nonrecognition of authority." I see the act of creating graffiti to be fundamentally anarchic behavior. In a similar way, I think of emotions as also being anarchic in nature; they don't play by any sort of rules, and they can’t, at a base level, be legislated or mandated. Simply put, human beings can't really control how they feel.

 “The Anarchy of Emotion” is a collection of images that reflect the instinct to express emotion, and to express it publicly, even if it means flouting the law. The works in these images are typically anonymous, as if the makers have an ambivalence toward revealing themselves. Both the feelings expressed and their display signify a "non-recognition of authority," and to me these images represent the anarchy of emotion.

This project started with a disused call box on the Coney Island boardwalk, with the word “ADORE” scratched into it. Later, while out taking photographs in New York City with no real purpose in mind, I noticed a bit of graffiti that said “Amor,” which recalled the “Adore” image from months earlier. I set out to find more “Adore” images, but while unsuccessful, other bits of graffiti caught my attention. Later, I realized I had been drawn only to graffiti with emotional content. As I began showing some of my photographs to friends, it became clearer to me that I was likely drawn to this imagery because I was going through an emotionally difficult time in my life and was relating to some of the feelings expressed in this graffiti on a subconscious level.

Over time, and in a diversity of locations, I saw that there was a universal nature to these feelings; people felt compelled to express similar, deep emotions in public spaces. Among the hundreds of images I had captured, I saw certain themes emerge, and rather than present them individually, I decided to group them in panels. A selection of these is exhibited here.

As part of this collection, I’m inviting you to briefly describe how these images make you feel, then pin your notes to a board below each set of images. These notes will remain anonymous, just as the feelings shared originally in the graffiti itself.

Earlier Event: July 7
Free Art Friday