'Never has a publication been more timely' - Dazed
'A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art’ - Telegraph
In this remarkable, inspiring collection of essays, acclaimed writer and critic Olivia Laing makes a brilliant case for why art matters, especially in the turbulent political weather of the twenty-first century.
Funny Weather brings together a career's worth of Laing's writing about art and culture, examining their roles in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, she celebrates art as a force of resistance and repair, an antidote to a frightening political time.
We’re often told art can’t change anything. In Funny Weather, Laing argues that it can. It changes how we see the world, it exposes inequality, and it offers fertile new ways of living.
This timely collection from Laing (The Trip to Echo Spring) asks "Can art do anything, especially during periods of crisis?" She shows that, indeed, art can change things for the better, pinning her assertion on critic Eve Sedgwick's concept of "reparative reading," which encourages readers to use hope, creativity, and survival in their interpretations. Broken up into sections that include artist profiles, literary criticism, and personal essay, the book shows where art can fight back, as with painter David Wojnarowicz's writing and photography documenting his former partner's death from AIDS at a time of political inaction. Thanks to the short length of her essays, she's able to cover a lot of ground, touching on, in addition to the AIDS crisis, climate change, gender, and in two especially biting selections, the plight of refugees in the U.K. and the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Laing soars in her writing on Maggie Nelson, whom she describes as creating an "exhilarating new language for considering both the messiness of life and the meanings of art." As a collection that aims to exemplify "new ways of seeing" to break through a "spin cycle of terrified paranoia," this will leave readers eager to reengage with art they know well, and explore art as yet new to them.