Objective

Jessamyn Lovell, Self-portrait taken on surveillance, from No Trespassing, (2007-2009), 40×70” archival inkjet print

“The FBI does not reach conclusions. You know that’s a phony question because the FBI doesn’t reach conclusions.” -Brett Kavanaugh

Do we live in a post-truth era? In a time when our outgoing president supports conspiracy theories and whips up a base of people to believe so deeply that the global pandemic is nothing more than a politically motivated hoax that they claim this even on their death beds from the very illness itself; and when there is no possible way to reach a middle ground between two factions that operate in seemingly different realities in which the same nation looks like two vastly different places; and when even the most basic ideas about health and safety are met with derision by a defiant group who believe their personal liberty takes precedence over the well-being of the masses and who do not believe the experts telling them how to keep themselves safe, we must consider that perhaps we have moved beyond a time when fact held sway over opinion when it came to how we operate as individuals and as a population at large.

Jessamyn Lovell spoke to us from New Mexico. Her work, Dear Erin Hart, began when she was travelling to install a show about her estranged father who she followed and photographed in the method of paparazzi. During this time, her wallet was stolen from the gallery. She went through the process of getting her license and other items replaced but a while later, Lovell received a call from an investigator asking if she knew a woman named Erin Hart and whether she had given her permission to use her drivers license. Lovell began trying to track down Erin Hart in the same way she found her father. Although it had been easy to located and track her father, Ms. Hart proved more skilled at evading being found. With Lovell’s drivers license, Ms. Hart did things like rent a car with someone else’s credit card. She subsequently got all manner of parking tickets and damages that fell on Lovell’s shoulders. Ms. Hart also tried unsuccessfully to check into a very fancy hotel as well as incurred charges in a Whole Foods in Lovell’s former neighborhood. Lovell is quick to acknowledge that her privilege as a white woman of means allowed her to get out of the many charges that Ms. Hart racked up. To hear what Lovell, who is now a licensed, practicing investigator, did next, listen to the complete interview.

Robin Pogrebin is a reporter at the New York Times Culture Desk and co-authored the book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation which outlines what a mistake was made in his appointment. For Pogrebin and her co-author, it was the desire to get more facts and the truth that was obscured by the pre-conceptions of people on both sides of the political spectrum during the Kavanaugh hearings. The investigation took an honest look at Kavanaugh’s life from childhood to the moment he appeared in the public eye and, ultimately, disappointed both sides in that they neither exonerated nor fully convicted him of the accusations leveled against him. Upon its release, people on both sides weaponized the book before having read it, speaking very much to the wider situation we find ourselves in where there is no middle ground and minds are made up and unchangeable, sometimes based on very little. To hear more about this, and Pogrebin’s work at the NYT Culture Desk, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

We have perhaps transcended truth in such a way that it is no longer possible to point to objective fact as a basis for uniting everyone in the same reality.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Learn more about The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly.

Deadlines

CERN invites artists to apply for their residency program – in their own words: Artists of any nationality or creative discipline are invited to submit a project proposal involving research and production phases during a residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva. The artist will also have the opportunity to expand their research and test its applications through Barcelona’s scientific and cultural network while engaging with a wide range of communities. To learn more about this unique opportunity, visit the website. Deadline is December 7.

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