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Caitlin Merrett King: Always Open Always Closed

Ms Real thinks about how she can never decide if she really likes anything and really wishes that she could come to more conclusions. Understanding this well however, she knows that maintaining this approach means that you can avoid upsetting anyone or saying something that you or anyone else might disagree with later. Not that one must have an opinion on everything, she thinks, but sometimes it might be easier not to. She takes a slow walk over to a low hanging sculpture, staring through a hole in the ceramic and directly into the eyes of an impish child who crosses their eyes at her manically and runs off.

What if artworks were experienced like this, really? Encountered somewhat smashed together, one after the other, feeling distinctly hungover, lying on your stomach on the gallery floor, your phone on fire, your brain full of song and gossip and other people’s ideas, your whole self open to actually feeling it all? What if these were the realest conditions for art-thinking, art-writing and serious critical engagement? These are provocations of Caitlin Merrett King’s brilliant first book – an urgent repurposing of Lynne Tillman’s ‘Madame Realism’ sequence for Glasgow, for the state of art criticism today, for our own precarious times.