Jarrett Earnest: Valid Until Sunset

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When you travel you find yourself turning off the flash and holding your hands still for seconds-long exposures in dim museum lighting, getting as close to the artworks as the guards will let you. Those pictures are just blurs, like ghosts of paintings. You wonder why you’re doing it, and decide it’s about capturing the space and time of the moment you were in with that object, rather than describing what it looks like...

In 2015 Jarrett Earnest began carrying a small instant camera everywhere he went, photographing friends, artworks, parties, and sex. When people would ask, he’d say they weren’t photographs but “writing.” Over the next seven years this practice evolved into an interrogation of images and time, looking at Renaissance painting, contemporary sculpture, and video art, for example, through the medium of photography—and how images become nested into, and inseparable from, the layered narratives of our lives.

Valid Until Sunset brings together sixty of these photographs, each with a text on the facing page, creating a unique hybrid of art criticism, queer theory, and travelogue. The book seeks a new mode of address—a way of speaking to and against images—following philosopher Simone Weil’s method for understanding images, which is "not to try to interpret them, but to look at them till the light suddenly dawns.”

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 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.

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