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1. Uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
2. Psychology - the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.
Ambivalently Yours is my anonymous online persona, created to facilitate the exploration of feminist convictions by embracing ambivalent emotions. Part of being a feminist is about advocating for a person’s right to choose. This right, however, does not imply there is only one choice, or that a final decision must be reached in order to achieve political change. By allowing myself to work from an ambivalent perspective and accept my conflicting opinions, the passivity of being undecided is transformed into a conscious act of undeciding. To quote queer theorist Jack Halberstam: “I explore a feminist politics that issues not from a doing but from an undoing, not from a being or becoming women but from a refusal to be or become a woman as she has been defined and imagined within Western Philosophy.” (Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke UP, 2011. 124. Print.) In my work, the refusal to become a woman as prescribed by society, goes beyond replacing traditionally feminine aesthetics with a more neutral or masculine palette. Instead, I aim to reclaim the language of girlhood, distance it from its association to frivolity and naiveté, and embrace aggressively pastel hues and tender emotions as an act of resistance. It is within this duality of refusal and redefinition that Ambivalently Yours cultivates relationships of empathy and feminist agency within an online community of in-betweeners.
Since 2011, I have explored ambivalence through the online sharing of illustrations, sound sketches, videos, blog posts and anonymous notes left in public spaces. As my work grew in popularity, a number of my drawings (originally posted on Tumblr, and later other social media) were shared virally on social media, which inspired unsolicited participation from online contributors (often anonymous), who began to share their conflicting emotions and ask me for advice. In response, I have been illustrating the ambivalence of my social media followers and sharing the results online. My web-based exchanges have also evolved into installation, audio and video works. My interactive practice has helped me understand the potential for political resistance and emotional empathy that exists within conflicting emotions, and I aim to create platforms and spaces where we can invest in our contradictions and intersections instead of trying to homogenise them. I believe that an ambivalent approach to feminist action allows for multiple emotions, identities and definitions to co-exist, creating a more inclusive feminist movement that can resist and evolve within the dominant culture.
“The answer to most either/or questions is both;
the best response to a paradox is to embrace both sides
instead of cutting off one or the other for the sake of coherence.”