Kate Horvat: The Sun Is Shining But I Don’t Trust ItJuly 19, 2019
Trust: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
How does one develop trust? Trust comes through the repetition of reliable and truthful sensations. We feel it — physically, emotionally, mentally — grow in strength through its continued duration. The Sun is Shining in all the chaos of our current perceived world. Kate Horvat asks us not to trust it. As we move into an era often described by terms such as “post-truth” and “fake news” we arrive at a place where our sense of trust is more reliant on our faith in something. Faith is a lot more fluid, and requires internal reconciliation of perceived contradictions. Tinged with hope and our attachment to promised ideals, we put our trust in faith. Faith in the tactile, earthly, and reliable. Kate Horvat asks us not to trust it.
The phrase that makes up the title for the book was overheard by Horvat while waiting in line to order tacos. When a break in the clouds opened up a woman in front of her said “The sun is shining but I don’t trust it” This statement caused Horvat to question the ways in which we develop trust in our world. The questioning of something as seemingly absolute as the sun brings us to our strange new reality, the faiths we build, and where we form alliances.
Horvat spent an entire year (November 2017-November 2018) capturing front pages from four major US news sources: MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and NPR. Each source having its own bias, spin, and core audience. With headlines and front page images, Horvat asks the question: What is deemed newsworthy for the front page? Flipping through selections of these screenshots it feels like riding a thin line between eerily similar alien worlds. The language shifts dramatically in tone and focus, each layer filled with critiques of the opposing worldviews.
“I’m not cooperating. Arrest me.” in bold print across the front page of CNN, “HELL FREEZES OVER” the headline on a Fox News article critiquing liberal media biases. Each one of these moments frozen in time forces a pause and reconsideration of the language and pace. The focus is not on facts but on sheer entertainment value that turn journalists toward stories with the dramatized jump cuts of reality television.
Most of these headlines will be forgotten. They are often dramatized, and over-the-top, and because they happen day after day, they become overwritten in our memory. The spectacle is on repeat: we scroll infinitely, we can watch, we tweet, we post status updates, we fight with our uncles on Facebook about their titles and subject matters. We have moved to a fully interactive and performative sense of newsworthiness on social media where the flow of information is seemingly endless. The multiplicity of spins, comments, and varying perspectives leave the news viewer teetering on uncertainty, but it keeps us coming back to the pulpit for more.
Horvat’s work stops this interaction by making these fleeting moments tactile. The Sun is Shining but I Don’t Trust It fosters a sense of place, grounding, trust, and slowness. The sources conversations will be in direct opposition to the material pleasure of the monoprinting process. In a screenshot, there is simultaneously a receipt or proof of the conversation or event that happened, while also taking that event into an all-new context of its own. By stopping the spectacle cycle dead in its tracks through a single second screen capture, these moments can be pondered, removed, and made into seductive material through an applied dither.
In these chaotic and divisive times, the screenshot is one of the only ways we can find a sense of truth. Horvat is making the conscious choice to slow down and look critically at these slapstick sensational moments, and address how we could strategize materializing a future where we come to our senses. The entire notion of “I Don’t Trust It” is a phrase commonly associated with a sense of questioning our faith. A faith in democracy, in the American Dream, in the idea that we could even have a bit of the opportunity once granted to the generations before us. We know, as Horvat suggests, the sun is still shining. However, it also feels like the world is in a state of freefall–groundless and unstable. In an attempt to grip at this sense of groundlessness, Horvat utilizes monoprinting to represent the distraction and uneasiness we all feel. We follow the cadence of undulation through the screen sized pages.
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Melaney Ann Mitchell is an artist, writer, and organizer based in Kansas City, MO. She was the Founder and Senior Editor of Informality Blog, an online platform for documenting the conversation about Kansas City contemporary art and culture, where she remains an Editor at Large. In addition, Mitchell was a resident artist of The Drugstore, Co-Director/Curator at a PLUG Projects, and Director of Subterranean Gallery. Her practice examines dialogues around contemporary art, artist-run spaces, and digital culture.