I'm Too Sad To Tell You


Dir. Bas Jan Ader, 16mm B/W Sound 00:03:30

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In his later work, a degree of irony is still palpable through the use of kitschy, sentimental imagery, even as the act becomes increasingly difficult to discern as such. The series of films and photographs I'M TOO SAD TO TELL YOU, 1970-71, document Ader crying for the camera. This trope of Hollywood melodrama, the teary close-up, becomes a rather convincing display of emotion. Here again, he isolates the action from any narrative context, which the Hollywood counterpart depends upon for effect.

[Source: Brad Spence, “The Case of Bas Jan Ader"]

In the film I'M TOO SAD TO TELL YOU (1970), Ader sits on a chair and cries. And cries. This piece, like a few others, teeters on a Sylvia Plath-like embrace of despair that is often most resonant to teenagers. And yet, because Ader is a man, we are ready and willing to accept the pull of an outdated melancholia.

[Source: James Roberts and Collier Schorr, Frieze Magazine]