“On a certain level, I want everything to be beautiful and meaningful all the time, and that’s a lot of work, but what else is there?”
For the last guest-episode of 2023, art critic Jarrett Earnest joins me to celebrate his beautiful new book, VALID UNTIL SUNSET (Matte Editions), which brings together his Polaroids and a second-person narrative to create a bewitching trip through memory, art, grief, friendship, and more. We talk about how the sudden death of his father paralyzed and then catalyzed him, the importance of making art before fully recovering from a bad experience, how the artist’s job is to be a question mark, and how a Nan Goldin exhibition started him on taking pictures of the people and places that mattered to him. We get into his friendships with Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Schjeldahl, and Genesis’ imprecation to do/make/be the Most Fabulous Imaginable Version, the importance of road trips and pilgrimages, what he learned from interviewing a series of art critics, the freedom & addictiveness of writing in the second person, why we need to make an argument about why any art matters at all today, and why he loves writing about artists he knows. Plus, we discuss the value of public-facing life in NYC, how it felt to perform selections from Valid Until Sunset, how he thinks of writing in terms of shape, the importance of having a really good analyst and really dumb personal trainer, why you don’t need to be part of Barbenheimer, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read VALID UNTIL SUNSET!
“The pilgrimage is this beautiful ancient form where we decide that something is special and we make an intention to go and experience it. And everything you do along the way becomes part of what’s special.”
“This is about looking at the image and seeing what I can see in it, and what I can’t see in it. What’s in it that I can’t tell what it is, and I can’t remember it? That’s where it started.”
“The big problem with art criticism is nobody wants to read it and nobody’s writing it like it should be read.”
“If it’s not weird, what’s the point?”
About our Guest
Jarrett Earnest is the author of What it Means to Write About Art: Interviews with Art Critics (2018) and the editor of The Young and Evil: Queer Modernism in New York, 1930-1955 (2020), Painting is a Supreme Fiction: Writings by Jesse Murry, 1980-1993 (2021) and Devotion: today’s future becomes tomorrow’s archive (2022). His criticism has been published in magazines and exhibition catalogs around the world, and appears regularly in the New York Review of Books. His new book is Valid Until Sunset.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Jarrett’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Jarrett by me. It’s on my instagram.