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The Conversation Art Podcast

A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.

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Epis. # 240: "Art After Money, Money After Art"

Lakehead University professor and Art after Money, Money After Art author Max Haiven talks about: the ‘Dark Matter’ of the art world (coined by Gregory Sholette); the myth of meritocracy in the art world, as well as in his own academia, and the myth that money follows a logic that it always lands in the right places; how he uses art and the art world as a hieroglyph to understand a broader societal set of trends; how he, both as a critic and activist and a private citizen finds artworks with a political, often radical bent, most compelling (and which inform the curation of the work in the book); how some art as we know it is bleeding into forms of activism or agitation that has potential to resist oligarchical politics and economics that are destroying our world and most people’s lives; how art and money (especially finance) have always been connected; how the corrosive results of ‘finacialization’ includes the sense of competition individuals have towards their fellow citizens, leading to a sense of alienation and loathing the Max things we’re only beginning to understand; the way that critics legitimate works as ‘art,’ for better or worse, and his contention that art has the ability to get under the skin of the economy in ways that almost no other approach does; and how artists can make their most important contributions to social movements and social change not as artists, but as citizens.

1hr 40mins

6 Apr 2019

Rank #1

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Epis.#257: Nick Brown-- L.A. painter and director of the Davyde Whaley Foundation

L.A.-based painter Davyd Whaley Foundation director Nick Brown talks about : Quitting all his teaching jobs in favor of bartending while in New York because he needed to be making significantly for the high cost of living; how he got his current day job as director of the Davyd Whaley Foundation, which gives artist’s grants in the Southern California region, and what the job entails; how his being involved in the jury process has made him more sympathetic to artists who apply, advocating for prospective grantees; how he’s found artists in L.A. to be more generous in sharing opportunities than he experienced while in New York, and how he really likes to making art world introductions; his career successes and struggles, and how he sees the Whaley grant for emerging artists as a way for them to get a boost of recognition and advances their career; how he’s maintaining his UCLA extension teaching job in addition to being the Foundation director because he loves teaching so much, despite its challenges; how he sells his work, both to collectors he’s been able to cultivate without a gallery, as well as small watercolors on Instagram; the story of when a collector rang him up out of the blue and bought $10k of his work at a moment when he was really hurting financially; and how he applied to New American Paintings two years in a row with the exact same work, getting in the 2nd time (because it was all about the viewer, he said--not the work).


21 Dec 2019

Rank #2

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Epis.# 235: Art in the 21st Century with Nick Ravich of Art21

Nick Ravich, director of production for Art21 in New York, talks about:  His approach as both a producer and a director of Art21 artist docs, which are produced in both shorter form as well as longer form on their most well-known platform, Art in the 21st Century, which is broadcast on PBS; the variation in artists’ approaches and responses to being subjects of Art21, and how inevitably they’re often made to be vulnerable, at the least by having a camera on them in their studio for an entire day (if not more); how Art21 survives as an institution, particularly with all of the other video-about-contemporary-art platforms that have sprung up since they launched; the affirmative dynamic Art21 has towards its artists, and how the process of choosing artists works (the artists almost always say yes); a bizarre experience he had with the photographer Kay Grannan when they were on a shoot and staying at a Las Vegas motel off the strip; and Nick launches into an insightful analysis of the differences between podcasts and video in terms of to what extent someone (artists in particular) will open up.

1hr 17mins

19 Jan 2019

Rank #3

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Epis.# 231: "The Price of Everything" producers Jennifer Blei Stockman and Debi Wisch

Debi Wisch and Jennifer Blei Stockman, two of the three main producers of the documentary The Price of Everything, about art and money, talk about: The breakdown of the sales system in terms of democratization; auctioneer Simon de Pury’s line: “you should buy with your eyes, not your ears,” and ignore the background noise, as Debi puts it; buying trends among collectors, and the pros and cons of those purchases; the complications of gifting collections to museums; resources available to artists on the film’s website; the producers’ goals in terms of pulling back the curtain on the art world and getting people thinking and asking questions, and how one personal motivation was not being able to collect a lot of contemporary art they’d been interested in because it was too expensive; how artists (including Jeff Koons) don’t make any money from their work when it sells at auction; the draw of contemporary art around the world that’s been made apparent to the filmmakers through the many countries that have shown interest in the film; the possible reasons why a German refugee, just prior to the Holocaust, owns a Maurizio Cattelan sculpture of an adolescent-sized Adolph Hitler on his knees; and the challenges and thrills of navigating the learning curve of filmmaking over a seven-year span for this ambitious documentary.

1hr 18mins

24 Nov 2018

Rank #4

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Epis.#255: Laura Krifka-- painter and professor--

Painter and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor Laura Krifka talks about: How her work is at its core about seduction, built through scenarios of being seduced, and how she constructs each painting to both seduce, and, by revealing subtle (metaphorical) cracks in the foundation, she also plays with repulsion; the frank reactions she’s received from more non-Art World audiences about being a ‘weird lady’ for the things she paints; her process of working with models, whom she really enjoys collaborating with and often become friends, and the ‘violence’ that she feels she brings to their painted visages… she feels more comfortable using herself as a model for the more distorted and/or vulnerable characters; how she meets the tremendous adulation she’s been receiving for her fall 2019 show in Los Angeles with the steadfast belief that it won’t last…she always leaves the house expecting some sort of disaster (and yet on the flip side, she’s very grateful for everything she has--including a tenure-track professorship); how she’s always planned on having a side hustle, and still plans to even if her work completely blows up (let’s hold her to that).


23 Nov 2019

Rank #5

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Epis.# 232: "Art Advice" from Sacramento-based Ianna and Gioia

Ianna Frisby and Gioia Fonda of Sacramento-based project Art Advice talk about: How they came to start their collaborative project Art Advice, which is physically the real-life equivalent of the booth Lucy helmed in the cartoon Peanuts, only in this case they specialize in serving artists; the reason they both wound up in Sacramento, and the many pros that outweigh the cons of living in a non-art capital, including its scalable community and navigability; the pros and cons of going to grad school, and a Do-it-Yourself program put together by artists in Oakland that prospective students could consider before paying hefty grad school tuition; how local artists have forged their own paths without grad school; how to handle rejection, via a handout that Gioia wrote, which mainly entails getting back on the horse and applying to more opportunities, and how important it is to pursue relevant and targeted ones; and the gratifying aspects of running the Art Advice booth in its democratizing of the art community, and how it’s an instant gratification alternative to the slowness of institutional bureaucracy.

1hr 10mins

8 Dec 2018

Rank #6

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Epis.#253: Lauren van Haaften-Schick--

ᐧArtists’ rights and laws expert and PhD Candidate Lauren van Haaften-Schick talks about:  Her first big experience with the secondary market via the runaway auction sale of a work by an artist showing at Nicole Klagsbrun – where Lauren was working at the time – and how it set her on a course re-considering artists’ contracts, resale royalties and activism for artists’ rights; how many of the resale royalties going to artists in the U.K., where they actually have a law supporting artists this way, have been on the small side, supporting the premise that resale royalties don’t only benefit big-name artists in big auctions; the Scull Auction of 1973, which marked the first time that contemporary American art was sold in such a brazenly speculative way, and led to a famous encounter between Robert Scull and Robert Rauschenberg; how activism works in artists’ rights in terms of potential redistribution, and ‘smart’ contracts; how big-name artists in the past (Robert Mangold, Jenny Holzer, Hans Haacke) showed up at congressional hearings for artist’s royalties, whereas recent generations of big-name artists have been relatively absent; and the ‘Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, Seth Siegelaub’s 1971 contract which has had a long-lasting effect in this realm of the art world, despite the lack of awareness of its existence.


26 Oct 2019

Rank #7

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Epis.#242: Lee Lozano's martyrdom, Hans Haacke's 'painful' piece challenging MoMA, &

In part 2 with Max Haiven, author of Art After Money, Money After Art, we dig into his book in earnest, including readings of and discussions about: his studies of social movements; how philosophers/theoreticians (mainly French) came to enter the discourse around contemporary art; Joseph Beuys’ work with bank notes (ie money); the radical imagination, which he derives from the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis, but applies to the contemporary and in particular to financialization, but at its core is about taking a skeptical view of all the constructed institutions in our society that we are co-constructing all the time…including art; Hans Haacke, including his epis piece of institutional critique at the Museum of Modern Art (which led to the curator of the show he was in’s firing), and which leads Max to questions around what the ruling class wants from their art, and the contradictions therein; Lee Lozano, the pioneering conceptual artist and painter who did pieces including offering a jar of money to visitors to her studio, boycotting women, and eventually “Dropout Piece” which entailed her leaving the art world for the rest of her life, and martyred her, something Max suggests she would have railed against; the type of art world insider Max was able to speak with, and what his takeaways are from talking with them; Zach Gough’s participatory art experience/demonstration involving giving out an invented currency at levels respective to the hierarchies at conferences, and process of how those social hierarchies play out in real life (more or less); the incredible cognitive dissonance Max has experienced at art fairs, and his observation of multiple worlds co-existing simultaneously, and the act of their often ignoring each other (including him, since he was only a researcher); and finally, Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies’ 1967 intervention at the New York Stock Exchange, how contemporary iterations of that piece have been implemented, and how the spirit of the Yippies – both the best of it (community building, suffusing art into life), and the worst of it (contemporary art’s surface-y bombast and machinations) – very much exists in a lot of contemporary art, and why.

2hr 6mins

4 May 2019

Rank #8

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Epis.# 237: Anna Schachte, L.A.-based artist

Los Angeles-based artist Anna Schachte talks about: Her (and her family’s) decision to leave New York for L.A., including about to have a 2nd child, the love-hate-love relationship with NY and the wildly changed landscape, having lived in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint section of Brooklyn for nearly 17 years; the identity crisis she struggled with after having her first child, when she felt as though she were losing her identity as an artist, especially when combined with her separation from her gallery, which she had worked with right out of grad school; her various day jobs, including “puppet doctor,” scene painter, bartender and bookkeeper, and how she and her husband navigated their earning dynamic when they had kids; how the artist-run gallery that she was part of, Regina Rex, was born, and who was a part of it (mainly grad school colleagues/acquaintances from Chicago); how the gallery moved from Bushwick to the Lower East Side, and how this group of around 13 artists navigated decision making, curating, and business (who of the group was able to sell work, to make it sustainable) as a gallery, and experience she called “a beautiful utopian experience, until capitalism took over and chewed it up and burned it out.”

1hr 6mins

23 Feb 2019

Rank #9

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Epis.# 233: Kristen Haring, youngest sister of the late Keith Haring

In part 3 of 3 from the Donum Estate winery in Sonoma, Kristen Haring, technology writer, Keith Haring Foundation board member and youngest sister of the late Keith Haring, talks about: Her work with the Foundation, which was started in 1989, and how Keith came to set it up out of his involvement in charities, including making logos for several organizations; her relationship with Keith (who was 12 years older), which was emphasized by his wanting to be a big influence on her, and later his wanting her to have her own life, separate from his career and Foundation; her experiences going in and out of the art world (as a non-art person), which she often finds bizarre, and describes as feeling like an anthropologist, and which started as early as when she was 11, when the family would go into the city from Pennsylvania for Keith’s openings; Keith’s concerns about economic disparity generally, and specifically in the form of collectors who would own his work to the exclusion of the public, and in turn, his efforts to make his work available to as many people who wanted it as possible, including through his Pop Shop, which, as opposed to criticisms of his being a sell-out, was in fact only profitable 2 of its 19 years;  Keith’s interest in becoming famous, which Kristen found unappealing…in fact, her exposure to celebrity through Keith’s access made her move towards a desire to have a private life; and Keith’s 25-foot-tall steel sculpture, “King and Queen,” installed at Donum Winery.


22 Dec 2018

Rank #10

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Art After Money-- part 3 with Max Haiven

In part 3 with Max Haiven, author of Art after Money, Money After Art, we talk about: The influence (or lack thereof) of academia on the art market; the concept of writer Lauren Berlant’s ‘cruel optimism,’ which is something akin to a false sense of hope (Max uses the examples of using better light bulbs or taking shorter showers as being bogus solutions to climate change, which need to be addressed by the big corporations), and how it relates to art and artists, particularly young artists in anticipation of the type of career they envision; the importance of hype and confidence, not only in the art world but in the world at large (Max’s cites Uber’s fairly disastrous IPO); how confidence is performed, either tactically or non-tactically, which leads to a tangent previewing Max’s current book project about ‘Revenge,’ which features various far-right men’s groups (this conversation is in a bonus episode);  artist/activist Paolo Cirio’s astounding 2014 piece, “Loophole for All,” in which he hacked the Cayman Islands’ Registry and published the names of over 200,000 firms, in turn selling forged certificates citing ownership of each of those companies for as low as $0.99; the distinction of an action or intervention being art, as opposed to just activism, and how that plays out in Cirio’s work in particular; Valentina Karga and Pieterjan Grandry’s “Valentina and Pieter Invest in Themselves,” a gold coin which is owned be a changing group of shareholders at different investment points, and how the piece sheds light on the exploitability of artists and their artworks in the market, and, how in their case, the ‘market’ is a proxy for community; Bay Area artist Cassie Thornton’s surprisingly effective “Give me Cred,” a project creating custom, alternative credit reports for housing and job applicants, an adaptation to a corrupt credit-scoring market; the artist in the book who inspired Max’s interest in financialization and in turn “Art After Money…” and how their relationship evolved; and finally, recommendations for learning more about Artivism.

1hr 52mins

18 May 2019

Rank #11