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The Conversation Art Podcast
113 minutes | Jul 24, 2021
Best-Of episode with Ben Davis (ArtNet News and
In addition to being a replay of episode 138, from May of 2021, art writer Ben Davis also provides an update on what he thinks about art and activism today, in conjunction with his new book, 'Culture Collapse.' In this episode, Ben talks about: His time in Australia at the (x) conference, and his meetings with artist Ben Quilty (also a social activist work); art and activism, and art & politics; the mutually incompatible art tribes that exist among the different 'art worlds;' how the fact that all the different complaints from various factions of the art world(s) can all be true at once, and how disorienting that can be (for Ben); how outside of the cities where there's a market, the conversation is almost always about social aesthetics (what Ben calls "social practice") instead, and how that's where government arts support tends to gravitate; how some of the most interesting art – art that's 'underground and weird' - is being made outside of the art world bubble, among them Fee Plumley, an artist based in Adelaide; sections from his book "9.5 Theses on Art and Class" -- the title and also a specific chapter of his book which was originally written as a pamphlet and intervention of an art show in NY on art and class – including trickle-down theories of both economics and art; and art education, and particularly what for Ben was a profoundly moving article: A Eulogy for Hope: The Silent Murder of Gallery 37 ; what explains the fact that grad schools are made up of 2/3 women, but galleries represent 1/3 women…what happened in between?; what the mechanisms are that make up the art world/how it works; his piece "Do you have to be rich to make it as an artist?"; how the conversation about the art market is a complete dead end; how cities with much smaller art markets, but much cheaper housing, are better for artists; and how without the writing, without the intellectual circulation around the production of art, art's just an overpriced piece of decoration.
58 minutes | Jul 10, 2021
Epis. 298: from cedar salvaging to becoming a landlord
Brooklyn-based artist Doug Beube talks about: his internship with photographer Minor White; photographing the circus, and later freelance gigs to make a living and support his art-making, including verité photos of John Kennedy, Jr.; doing cedar logging salvage in British Columbia; his journey from Ontario to New York, and eventually getting his Green Card; why he stopped doing commercial photography; buying the brownstone he now lives in, rents out, and Airbnbs in 1998 as a form of retirement; and the art of pulling apart books and repurposing them into objects.
45 minutes | Jun 26, 2021
Sharon Butler, painter and the
Sharon Butler, NYC Artist and creator and publisher of Two Coats of Paint, talks about: Leaving a tenured teaching position in Connecticut so she could get back to the action in NYC; the origins of Two Coats of Paint, her illustrious blogazine, which was born out of her interest in painting and following painting-focused writers and bloggers around the country, and evolved from being an extension of her painting into a full-fledged digital magazine that involves multiple contributing writers; how she considers herself a lifelong DIY-er, and has made it a point to cover the galleries in Brooklyn, the types of spaces that don’t get coverage in the mainstream publications; the mini-art movement that Sharon wrote about and essentially coined, Casualism; and how much having a permanent studio (for her, a three-year lease was huge), versus being a studio nomad, affected the type paintings she made. This episode is supported by the podcast Wireframe. Please check out their podcast- we think you’ll enjoy it, plus subscribing to Wireframe is a way for you to support The Conversation!
66 minutes | Jun 12, 2021
Epis.#296: Jennifer Moon, Los Angeles artist, would-be revolutionary, & professor
Los Angeles artist Jennifer Moon talks about: getting sober after a long string of drug use benders; navigating ambitions for revolution with a traditional artist career path, including her inclusion in the 2014 version of Made in L.A., which led to sales and accolades; how her commercial success – and the connection of an artist she was working for – eventually led to the security of a professorship at Otis, where she attempts to lobby for changes in the power structures; how, before her career broke, she thought she might give up art and become a therapist (she had been doing a lot of mediation with several organizations already; and a bit about her work with Revolution School, including the theory of ‘Scrooging’ and tackling collective trauma.
56 minutes | May 29, 2021
Epis.#295: LA-based photographer Rakeem Cunningham
Los Angeles-based artist Rakeem Cunningham talks about: growing up in essentially a small town (Pacoima) within Los Angeles, where he still lives and works out of a custom-built studio under his bedroom (though he’ll be moving out soon); his day job as the gallery manager for Gavlak in Downtown L.A., work which he really appreciates, and where he especially enjoys being a warm and welcoming host to black visitors to the gallery; how he started working in self-portraiture in lieu of hanging out with friends, and how it became a form of self-love as well as a way put his work out there via Flickr and Tumblr, before the Instagram era; and how he navigates photographing himself nude while avoiding fetishism and objectification.
60 minutes | May 15, 2021
Epis.#294: the art of art forgery
Law school professor, former general counsel for Pepsico, and novelist (most recently of The Forger’s Forgery) Clay Small talks about: visiting Amsterdam’s notorious Six Collection, which he was only able to do through creative means (largely through this article), and what the experience was like; art forgery, particularly European forgers of the 20th century- what they got away with, and how they largely avoided prosecution by cultivating charming personas, which ultimately led to their being forgiven in the public (and legal) arena; and his consequential and bizarre visit to Michael Jackson’s compound, in working on the contract negotiation for Jackson’s concert tour at the time.
79 minutes | May 1, 2021
Epis.#293: When the aim is the immaterial- artist Mitchell Chan
Toronto-based conceptual artist Mitchell Chan talks about his epic “Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility,” a blockchain-based work which was inspired by Yves Klein’s late 1950s precursor, “Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility;” we talk about Klein’s legendary work The Void, the apex of his ongoing project of making invisible, or nearly invisible, artworks, and how his revolutionary work may have been interpreted at the time; and we talk about the NFT (non-fungible token) market- how it’s helped his Digital Zones work, how a lot of great conceptual work has been made on blockchain, even if it’s not dominating the marketplace… and his philosophical take on the NFT trend from the perspective of an artist who’s been working in blockchain for at least the last five years.
59 minutes | Apr 17, 2021
Epis.#292: the chirp-less crickets of Kauai:
Artist, choreographer and former ballet dancer Madeline Hollander talks about her brief but dramatic professional ballet career and her subsequent transition into becoming a visual artist via choreography and performance; her project Flatwing, a search for the elusive silent/chirp-less crickets on the island of Kauai, which led to a deep dive into evolutionary biology and a video that’s being exhibited as part of an installation at the Whitney Museum; the turning points that led to her being included in the Whitney Biennial and now to have this solo exhibition at the museum; the pros and cons of working in the still-nascent niche of dance/choreography in contemporary art; and how the decision to invest in the Masters program at Bard College has already paid off.
86 minutes | Apr 3, 2021
Epis.#291: How did he make that??! plus...
Berlin-based artist Lee Wagstaff talks about his paintings and his recent career boost through his use of the Artist Support Pledge (#artistsupportpledge) platform-- how he learned of it, his strategies in using it, and how the smaller paintings he’s been making are an ideal format for it. The Support Pledge has also provided him with artistic/financial independence, without having to rely on networking (something he’s averse to), and how he’s turned it into a sustainable living; he also talks about how he makes his optical-yet-visceral paintings, which involve a proprietary process that even his painter friends can figure out.
42 minutes | Mar 20, 2021
Katarina Wong, part 2 of 2
In the 2nd of two parts, artist Katarina Wong talks about: her collective +1 +1, which fosters artist community serendipitously based on a non-competitive ethos, with sharing small works as an ice breaker; our shifting priorities since the pandemic, and our approach to FOMO and guilt when it comes to seeing, or not seeing, everything that’s out there; re-directing our focus on what we do throughout the day (including art making), so that instead of checking off boxes, we’re being intentional about our decisions, and not including the word “Should” as part of those decisions; working on her memoir about renovating an apartment she bought in Havana, which has brought her closer to relatives, while otherwise she struggles with feeling like an impostor for not fitting into any of her respective cultures, whether Cuban (her mom), Chinese (her dad’s Chinese), or even American, despite growing up in Florida.
51 minutes | Mar 6, 2021
Epis.#289: Can an artist get completely immersed in the making? Katarina Wong, part 1 of 2
Host Michael Shaw speaks with Katerina Wong, a New York City-based artist, curator, and writer (among other things), about working her way up to VP of Curatorial Engagement, a position she invented for herself at the corporate communications company where she worked for over a decade; getting good at managing her (limited) time in the studio with a full-time job; the pluses and minuses of teaching, in particular tenure-track positions; going back to school for a masters in theological studies at Harvard, and how she wound up there; how we’re conditioned to make work for an audience, as opposed to having, as Katarina calls it, “pure dialogue” with just the work itself; and we begin talking about the art scene in Cuba, including its misconceptions, which will continue in greater depth in part 2.
62 minutes | Feb 20, 2021
Epis.#288: Being a Museum Director during the Trump era
Curator, writer and museum director Laura Raicovich talks about the challenges she faced as director of the Queens Museum, particularly around actively addressing the vulnerability of many Queens residents during the Trump era, including meeting some resistance from some the museum’s board members. She also discusses issues around diversity and where museums need to be moving, topics she’s addressed in her upcoming book, “Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest.” We also discuss the controversy around the postponed Philip Guston retrospective, and the various projects she’s taking on as her run as a museum director winds down.
68 minutes | Feb 6, 2021
Epis.#287: Can art workers organize?
Artist, writer and art world worker Robin Kasier-Schatzlein talks with Michael Shaw and several listeners in the podcast's latest Virtual Cafe. Robin talks about his 'mini-memoir' from The New Republic titled "The Artist Isn't Dead: Eulogies for the creative class are premature. Art workers can organize—and survive," partially a book review of Shannon Clark's "The Making of The American Creative Class: New York’s Culture Workers and Twentieth-century Consumer Capitalism," and partly an introduction to Robin. In the Conversation via the Cafe, which features several listeners in the Q&A, Robin expands on his own experience being an artist, a writer (he has a newsletter, a twitter feed, and a Patreon page all worth checking out), and working in the art world as a preparator, and organizing with his colleagues at MoMA PS1, where he's the shop steward.
58 minutes | Jan 23, 2021
Curator and NYU Professor Miriam Basilio Discusses Breaking the Museum Diversity Barrier
Michael Shaw talks to Miriam Basilio about her job at MOMA curating Latin American Art, helping to integrate the curatorial landscape as a woman from Puerto Rico, low curatorial salaries, her current work at NYU as a tenured professor, her annual 6-week stints in Spain and the Spanish art community, her forthcoming book, and the importance of representation in the art world.
77 minutes | Jan 10, 2021
Matthew Burrows, MBE- English painter
English artist Matthew Burrows - founder of Artist Support Pledge, number 37 in ART REVIEW’S Power 100 list 2020, and 2020 Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) - talks about building his studio in East Sussex, and why he left London; the perils of ultra-marathoning, including facing his fears (and getting hypothermia); his artist Support Pledge- how and why he started it, its successes, and how it has provided him with a full-time income thru the sales of his works; he also talks about how to set up your own Support Pledge, and who sells well on it and why.
73 minutes | Dec 28, 2020
Epis.#284: 'Best-of' episode with Carolina Miranda
For the end-of-year holidays we're re-running our fantastic conversation with Carolina A. Miranda of the L.A. Times, which originally ran as episode 110 back in 2015. In addition to a new tighter edit of that original episode, we also share two 'Words of the Year of Little Importance," and read a brief, art-world-relevant passage from "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" by Ottessa Moshfegh. In that original conversation, we talked about: her philosophy and approach as an arts journalist; the issues around race brought up in her piece on the Donelle Woodford/Joe Scanlon Whitney Biennial scandal; her posts that went viral, including breaking the story that Hello Kitty is not a cat; as well as stories on a velvet painting museum, and a pool in the middle of the desert. Carolina also makes her world debut reading of "Jeff Koons Cut-Up Poem," culled from the many flowery-worded articles about his retrospective.
67 minutes | Dec 12, 2020
Epis.#283: Los Angeles-Based Artist Colleen Hargaden:
Colleen Hargaden discusses her exploration of subcultures and how to live sustainably, and even potentially survive as our climate changes and we move closer to apocalypse. These subcultures involve doomsday prepping, DIY culture, and tiny house culture, which she says focus too much on self-sustainability when they need to be more about communal sustainability. She also discusses how she’s drawn to the open-ended aspects of making fine art, as opposed to something that’s practical. She also breaks down the former life of Roger’s Office, an artist-run space co-founded by her and her partner. As a special bonus addendum, the episode concludes with Hargaden’s experience with “100-person crits” during grad school.
39 minutes | Nov 29, 2020
Epis.#282: Nato Thompson's Indig-Nation
In The Conversation’s first guest-featured Virtual Café – our once every few weeks gathering with fellow listeners on Zoom - former guest of the podcast (epis. 152 and 153) Nato Thompson talks about “the Indignation.” He riffs on how our emotional space, the space of the personal, becomes a political space... and how in that emotional space, the things that get the most traction are the things that provoke the most emotion. He points out that our biggest emotion- fear - is the modality of the internet, and how most internet chatter takes the form of social media- which has, ultimately, become our political discourse. He also talks his departure from the Philadelphia Contemporary (and nonprofits), and his new post directing the Alternative Art School, and ends with a great anecdote about his turning point towards becoming a curator.
61 minutes | Nov 14, 2020
Epis.#281: Steve Lambert (part II of II), on how Capitalism works -
In Part 2 with artist Steve Lambert, he discusses his most well-known artwork, Capitalism Works For Me, wherein he prompts participants to decide between “true” and “false” on whether capitalism really works for them on a personal level. Lambert himself says “false”, it doesn’t work for him, despite being in a better position than others and lists reasons why within the episode. He also weighs his career making more gallery-friendly art with his art for social change, and how he’s ultimately come down on the latter. His social change work thru the Center Artistic Activism was just featured on CBS News: https://c4aa.org/2020/10/cbs-this-morning-on-unstoppable-voters
74 minutes | Oct 31, 2020
Epis.#280: Steve Lambert, artist and co-founder of the Center for Artistic Activism
Beacon, NY-based artist and professor Steve Lambert talks about the perils of working in ‘new media’ (as opposed to ‘old media’), particularly around scarcity and the market. He discusses the Center for Artistic Activism, the non-profit he co- founded, including a project in Macedonia that addressed the rampant corruption with a "Bribe Box," a clever workaround for illegal protesting in Barcelona, and training artist-activists in actually achieving ‘wins,’ unambivalently, and the complex relationships between art and activism and how they can come together.
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