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The Art World: What If...?!

What if we reimagined everything in culture, from painting to patronage? Tune in to The Art World: What If…?! to hear leading thinkers, creators and innovators in art rethink the system, exploring the consequences with wit, wisdom and humor. Join art journalist Charlotte Burns and world-renowned art advisor Allan Schwartzman as they exclusively interview museum leaders, collectors and artists including MoMA director Glenn Lowry, Guggenheim deputy director Naomi Beckwith, non-profit leader Kemi Ilesanmi, curator Cecilia Alemani and Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the director of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and many others over the course of the series. From the team behind In Other Words and Hope & Dread, The Art World: What If…?! is brought to you by Schwartzman& for Art& and produced by Studio Burns.
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The Art World: What If...?!
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Now displaying: 2024
Jun 13, 2024
Join us for the almost final episode of this season where we welcome back our incredible team of editorial advisors who guide, suggest — and even challenge — what we’ve discussed this series. Joining us are Deana Haggag (program officer at the Mellon Foundation), Mia Locks (curator and co-founder of Museums Moving Forward), Jay Sanders (curator, writer, and director of Artists Space), and of course Allan Schwartzman, together with host Charlotte Burns. They reflect on the wonderful and wide-ranging conversations with our guests this season, about creativity, the nature of change, the future of museums, the balance between wealth and art, and new thinking in philanthropy. What if we focus on what’s urgent? What if we treat art like it’s essential? All this and much more... 
May 23, 2024

What if you were embroiled in a public workplace controversy? And what happens on the other side of the headlines—would you walk away from your field, or would you reengage with it to try and improve upon it? This very special episode is a break from the norm. In it, we discuss museums and change—and what it takes to get to that change. We’re joined by three curators—Mia Locks, director and co-founder of Museums Moving Forward; Fatoş Üstek, curator and former director of the Liverpool Biennial; and Laura Raicovich, writer, curator, and former president and executive director of the Queens Museum. Each of them has been through a public furor. In those moments, they have found a lack of institutional support and, afterwards, each has shifted from their previous career paths. But each has reengaged with the field in more ambitious and ultimately hopeful ways. Museums can't be taken for granted. But what does it take to create change? Tune in now for more. 

May 9, 2024

This time, we’re joined by the artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, just before the opening of her major new exhibition 'Monuments of Solidarity' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “This exhibition spiritually uplifts people,” she says. “It inspires people to be the change they need, but it also inspires them to be better human beings. To look beyond the self, to look beyond individualistic desires, to think about the fact that you are connected to an ecosystem and a world around you. People won't be the same. This is a transformative exhibition.” We delve into LaToya’s faith and the impact of art on our lives, its power not only to shine light into the darkness, but to move through people and communities and so to create profound, lasting change. Enjoy.

May 2, 2024

In this episode, we visit the Legacy Sites in Montgomery, Alabama, including the newly opened Freedom Monument Sculpture Park, a 17-acre site on the banks of the Alabama River. We interview their founder, the lawyer and civil rights hero, Bryan Stevenson, who says that a founding narrative of racial difference was created in America that “was like an infection. I believe the infection has spread. We've never treated that infection and the consequences of it are still with us today.” The US has never created cultural sites that have “motivated people to say, ‘never again can we tolerate racial bigotry, can we tolerate racial violence, can we tolerate the kind of indifference to these basic human rights’. So, that's what we're trying to achieve.” Hope and resilience inform the Legacy Sites. “I've always argued that hopelessness is the enemy of justice and that hope is an essential feature of what we do. I have to believe things I haven't seen,” Stevenson says. “I think we need an era of truth and justice, truth and reconciliation, truth and restoration, truth and repair,” Stevenson adds. “But we can't skip the truth-telling part.”

Apr 18, 2024

This time we welcome Karen Patterson, the Executive Director of the Ruth Foundation for the Arts. The organisation immediately became a major player when it launched in 2022, announcing plans to give away up to $20 million a year to arts organisations, thanks to a $440 million bequest from Ruth DeYoung Kohler. We delve into the what-ifs of philanthropy, the foundation's ethos, and its ambitious initiatives. Through a focus on generosity, experimentation, and consideration, Ruth Arts aims to transform the philanthropic landscape. “What if we made a big difference? What if people saw themselves as valuable?” Karen asks. “What if people saw themselves as cared for?”

Apr 11, 2024

“The market is poised for a big fall, so it's more ‘when’, than ‘what if’,” says Allan Schwartzman, founder of the podcast. He’s back on the show to talk all about the state of the art market and the broader implications of its changing dynamics for the artists and for the cultural landscape at large. "Greatness doesn't grow at the same rate as a population does," says Allan. "Greatness is extremely rare. And right now we're at a moment where I think there's greater confusion than ever about what actually is going on in art and what will be seen as significant 20 or 30 years from now."

 

Apr 4, 2024

We welcome back Kemi Ilesanmi, the former executive director of the Laundromat Project and one of the standout stars of our first season. In season one, Kemi was just about to head off on the trip of a lifetime around 13 countries, including ten in Africa. She promised to come back and tell us how the trip changed her ‘What Ifs.’ “I'm looking for freedom of movement, freedom of ideas, and freedom of manifestation of those ideas. Right now, it feels like I can only find that by working outside of any singular institution.” Kemi talks about creating a “beautiful, joyful, sustainable, cultural infrastructure for black and brown people across the globe” and asks, “What if that were possible? And what if I could help with that? And who else could help with that?”

Mar 28, 2024

For the second part of our interview with Koyo Kouoh, the chief curator and executive director of Zeitz MOCAA, we hear about how she has worked to overhaul the infrastructure of the institution internally as well as better connect the museum externally within Cape Town. Koyo talks about how “colonialism as an enterprise, as a model of global relating, has done a lot of harm that we are still mending and attending to.” She says: “That is a field of thinking, a space of emotion and knowledge that I am deeply passionate about. And that is why my investment in the space of Black geographies is so profound.”

Mar 21, 2024

Joining us from Cape Town in South Africa is Koyo Kouoh, the chief curator and executive director of Zeitz MOCAA for the first in a two-part special. Originally destined for a career in finance, Koyo talks about her journey into the art world, and from Basel in Switzerland to Dakar in Senegal, where she founded RAW Material Company in 2008. She tells us about her move to South Africa in 2019 to take over at Zeitz MOCAA, a new institution, but one in crisis. “We need to take the time to do the things that are urgent, that are essential, that are necessary,” Koyo says. “And, for me, building out institutions on the continent is a matter of urgency.” 

Mar 14, 2024

Legendary art dealer Barbara Gladstone joins us for a very rare interview from the studio in New York. What would she do differently if she started a gallery today? “I probably wouldn't do it,” she says. 

Barbara has been at the top of the business since the 1980s and now represents more than 70 artists and estates. She tells us how she started out with a small print business, and how things developed from there. We talk about art now, the future of the gallery, and what she would change about the art market, including the “idea that collecting is shopping, because I think that there is something that art adds to life,” she says. “What is really interesting is that it's not over,” she says. “It's not even over when the artist dies because there's constant evaluation and re-thinking going on. And when you put one work in proximity to another work 50 years later, something new can happen. I mean, I think that's why it's important.”

Mar 7, 2024

“West African culture is starting to become the future” says Phillip Ihenacho, the director of the newly established Museum of West African Art. What if you built a new museum in West Africa, where a glorious ancient history contrasts with a brutal colonial one? What if we really considered the full meaning of restitution and repair? Can a cultural organisation build a stable financial future by becoming its own landlord? Phillip and his team are building not just a new museum — but an entire neighbourhood set within the ancient walls of Benin City in Edo. Phillip talks to us about how talent and creativity are thriving in West Africa, where 70% of the population is under 30 and he talks frankly about the challenges of developing opportunities and infrastructure. This is an “incredibly important moment”, Phillip says. “We need to try and grab it with both hands, and take full advantage of it.”

Feb 29, 2024

In this episode, we welcome Jarl Mohn, the LA art collector and philanthropist who founded the E! Entertainment network in his professional life, among other impressive media and business ventures. Jarl became a DJ at a young age, partly in an attempt to escape the realities of life in a state foster home. Success in his professional career led him to the art world - which he initially distrusted as an industry “designed to take advantage of idiots like us”. Jarl talks to us about what changed his mind, and how he ended up building two distinct art collections. An ardent Angeleno, he tells us how LA is the future of art and reveals his secret dream of pulling off a very slow heist involving Walter de Maria’s ‘The Lightning Field’.

Feb 22, 2024

What if we write our own histories? What if we create the change we seek?  In this episode, we talk to the President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Hoor Al Qasimi, under whose watch, Sharjah has become one of the most influential centers for cultural creation and research in the Global South. From revamping art biennials to creating new universities, overseeing architectural triennials, running a fashion house, sitting on international museum boards, to curating large and small scale art projects around the world, Hoor Al Qasimi is perhaps one of the busiest people we have ever interviewed. At the heart of all of this is art, and Hoor’s profound belief in its essential ability to change us as people, and her insistence that this needs to be done by working together. Tune in for more! 

Feb 15, 2024

Described as the “next generation of leadership”, in this episode we welcome Salome Asega, the director of NEW INC in New York and an accomplished artist, whose work is at the cutting edge of creativity and technology. Salome’s ability to look towards—and build—the future shines through in this conversation with host Charlotte Burns. Part of her work at NEW INC, she says, is about creating chance encounters for creative people that feel like “choosing your own adventure.” What if we focused on new inventions, narratives and opportunities? Tune in for more. 

Feb 8, 2024

In this episode host Charlotte Burns is joined by artist Alvaro Barrington, who brings as much generosity of spirit to this conversation as he does to his art practice. Fundamentally curious, Alvaro wants to connect with as many people as possible and to make art that is as relevant to people today as Hip Hop was to him as a kid growing up in New York in the 1990s. But, as the art world has expanded, he says, it’s also become narrower in terms of who gets in. Alvaro is interested in changing that, creating less hierarchy and more connections. What if art could be as beloved as music by Beyonce or Taylor Swift? “Art has to be more in people’s lives,” he says, “It just has to figure that out.”

Feb 1, 2024

We’re back! In this episode, host Charlotte Burns talks to Jessica Morgan, the director of the Dia Art Foundation. She has revitalized the institution, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, since arriving in 2015, bringing new energy and distinct vision to the museum and creating change behind-the-scenes as much as she has to the work on display. In this episode Jessica talks openly about the museum field, from funding structures to her future plans, from unions to boards. What if Jessica ran the art world? She tells us what she would do first. 

Jan 25, 2024

Welcome back to The Art World: What If…?! the podcast all about imagining new futures. To kick off the second season in style, host Charlotte Burns is joined by the phenomenally talented, Grammy-nominated, singer and songwriter, Alice Smith who is, she says, currently at work on her masterpiece. This is a frank, free — and very fun — conversation, with lots of surprises. Alice delves into what it really means to be creative, and why it matters. What if she could pick her dream role? You might be surprised. Tune in for more. 

Jan 18, 2024

Welcome back to The Art World: What If... ?! the podcast all about imagining new and better futures. There are some fantastic guests lined up for this second season, leading creative thinkers from all around the world, ready to talk to our hosts Allan Schwartzman and Charlotte Burns. Tune in! New episodes drop every Thursday starting 25 January.

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