• What Do Writers Do On Instagram?

    From Amit Chaudhuri, Andrew O'Hagan, Kamila Shamsie and More

    I think artist Richard Wentworth pre-empted the idea of Instagram through his brilliant series of photographs titled Making Do and Getting By (1974 – present). A hugely influential body of work, his images document a surfeit, ‘ a creativity beyond functionality, a transformative repair.’ He has changed the way we look at the world, and stylistically a large number of diverting Instagram images owe a great deal to him, even those made by Instagrammers who don’t know his work.

    Richard writes: Put simply, I think my pictures are unremarkable, except in the way that they talk to each other and remind us that humans read the world every time they look. We sense ‘intention’ and causality in everything we see, the basis for the awful announcements on the Tube for ‘reporting anything unusual.’

    I have posted over a thousand images on Instagram. A stream of consciousness that helps hone my eye, alerting me to potential wherever I am. It helps generate new ideas for future artworks. It allows me to rail against social injustice, express political views, and visually indulge: the platform provides a fair bit of cat pilates, found abstracts, backs and undersides of objects, and miscellaneous stuff. I might be a late adopter, but I have made up for lost time, and have had the pleasure of meeting many of my followers in person along the way.

    Cornelia Parker, “A Brush With Instagram” 2023


    The publication of a book is a strange occasion for the author – a mix of disengagement and nervous anticipation. What happens in the long aftermath is another matter. Receiving copies of the Urdu translation, by Fey Seen Ejaz, of A New World from the Sahitya Akademi has given me joy, especially as I wasn’t expecting them.
    —Amit Chaudhuri

    I went over to see Edna O’Brien tonight.
    —Andrew O’Hagan

    Weather’s changing.
    —Cornelia Parker

    The A in Humanity is a bird.
    —Kamila Shamsie

    Completely love this. Everything you need to know about the Raj in one page from an 1890s anthology of useful Hindustani phrases. Hard to choose a favourite but either The cook is drunk again, The bullet just passed over my head or Why did you allow the goat to come into my house?
    —William Dalrymple


    From Seeing Things: The Small Wonders of the World According to Writers, Artists and Others. Edited by Julian Rothenstein. Used with permission from the publisher, Redstone Press.

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