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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 47

Thanks, I Hate It

How to give feedback to art friends.
Words by Louise Benson. Photograph by Sergiy Barchuk.

There is a heartbreaking scene in James Baldwin’s 1962 novel, Another Country, in which Richard, a novelist and author of crime thrillers, accuses his wife of “despising” his creative work. “You seem to have so little respect for my success,” he barks at her, before breaking down in tears. The presence of creative ambition within any relationship can be corrosive; the potential for judgment is always present. If that feedback turns negative, friendship—and even love—can sour.

When the stakes are so high, what should you do if you can’t stand the artistic output of a close friend? Stay silent or speak up? It is first worth considering whether they really need to hear your honest thoughts. Will your feedback offer them a new way forward or will it simply drag them down? “Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art, ” Susan Sontag argued, and the motivations behind that vengeance need to be carefully


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Seven

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