Maggie Nelson and Tala Madani on Fear in Artmaking and How Magic Can Save Us All
This Week from FUSE: A BOMB Podcast
In each episode of FUSE, BOMB Magazine invites an artist to choose a guest from any creative discipline—an art crush, a close collaborator, or even a stranger they’ve admired from afar—and we bring them together. The result? Candid, unfiltered conversations on art, what inspires it, how it’s made, and what we can learn from it.
In this episode, Maggie Nelson joins Tala Madani in conversation. Maggie reflects on the process of writing On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint. The pair discuss how to capture magic in adult life, balancing doubt and trust, and Maggie’s first experience writing about art.
From the episode:
Tala Madani: It’s funny, we’re in a moment where we’re really quite afraid of making a wrong step. You know, not just like art makers; politicians, anybody. Because the public eye seems to have become more immediate with social media. So the fear of that is quite crippling, I think, for so many people.
Maggie Nelson: I feel like I’ve heard a lot of people say—and I think it’s true in some ways—that these are kind of like anti-art times or anti-intellectual times. I think sometimes, like what to do if you find yourself there, in such times, that I think—and this is where the time thing comes in—a part of me feels like no time lasts forever. So, the worst thing that you would do would be to just say, “People don’t like thinking, I guess I won’t think!” or “People are down on making, I guess I won’t make.”
Maggie Nelson is the author of several books of poetry and prose, including the New York Times bestseller The Argonauts. She teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles. Her latest work of nonfiction is On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint, from Graywolf Press.
Tala Madani is a Los Angeles based artist who makes paintings and animations that prompt reflection on gender, political authority, and questions of who and what gets represented in art. She has had solo exhibitions at museums worldwide, and in 2022, she will be the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.