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41 False Starts (beach edition)

On a chilly November day, it is lovely to imagine relaxing on a beach with a good book! Meet art + reading contributor, Kathryn Smith, pictured here reading Janet Malcolm’s Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers in Santander, Spain. A South African-born visual artist, writer, and curator, Kathryn is currently based in Liverpool, UK completing a PhD in forensic art at Face Lab, Liverpool John Moores University.

On reading Malcolm, Kathryn remarks:

“Janet Malcolm’s most famous line, which opens her masterwork ‘The Journalist and the Murderer’, has come to define her: “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself [sic] to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” I have read this statement countless times, and each time it stops me short. Does she really mean that? As a universal truth? What is it to recognize this but to do the work anyway? My abiding interest is in forensic cultures, which I approach as the business of truth-making through close looking, and truth-telling through ventriloquism. Malcolm possesses the journalistic equivalent of x-ray vision from which no one, not even she, is safe. And her style mirrors this like water on glass - the view is clear, but just slightly refracted; destabilising. When she turns this incisive gaze to her encounters with artists and writers, the result is a new kind of socio-cultural accounting, free from the burdens of conventional art history or literary criticism and that much more illuminating. I tore through this book; and will return to it frequently.”

Check out Kathryn’s personal poetic reflection on psychogeography, the forensic imaginary, and reading the British landscape through the traumatic lens of violent crime in her essay “Here is There [unexpected transpositions]” in Issue 1 “Rupture” of art + reading (Autumn 2018).

Photo credit: Christian Nerf

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