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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: Category: Arts
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.”

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 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.

Apr 13, 2023

This time hosts Charlotte Burns and Allan Schwartzman welcome their team of editorial advisors Deana Haggag, Mia Locks and Jay Sanders. They’re the brilliant trio who’ve helped steer this season’s conversations acting as an independent sounding board lending editorial advice and expertise - all essential in the creation of this podcast. This is (almost) the season finale - so time to reflect and look back at some of the surprises, delights and, of course, the many "What Ifs". Listen out in the next few weeks for some special bonus episodes!

Apr 6, 2023

What if we supported artists in taking moonshots?  This week we’re taking a tour around Glenstone museum in Potomac, Maryland - one of the largest and most ambitious private institutions in America, fusing art, architecture and nature. This wide-ranging conversation between Glenstone’s co-founder and director, Emily Rales and host Charlotte Burns covers the art inside the museum and how to create more meaningful visitor experiences, to the Glenstone foundation and future philanthropic plans. “Our values are immutable,” Emily says. “Art is essential to life. And sometimes when I say that to people, they're like, what does that even mean? But I really believe that art is essential to our civilization and to humanity.” She adds: “Long-term defines the way we think. We're not intending to go out guns a-blazing and then sun-setting the foundation within 20 years. We want this to continue to be sustained in perpetuity—and we really mean that.”

Mar 30, 2023
What if we made more mess? What if we could sit with discomfort?  This time Charlotte Burns talks to one of her heroes, the artist Pope.L. Probably best known for his public performance art including his legendary crawls, Pope.L has risked his own safety for his work — and he isn’t finished yet. An artist whose practice is as varied as it is profound, Pope.L makes art across media, time and space. He talks to Charlotte about his new work for a major exhibition involving confederacy monuments, about working with institutions and about his goal to make more mess. “Oh man, you know, like removing every wall in a space and just having no differentiated areas," he says. "That would be one way. The other one would probably be the use of outside and inside. Don't make that a differentiation and then have them agree that we'll do the show in winter. That would be fun!”
Mar 23, 2023

What if we trusted artists more? This episode Charlotte Burns is joined by Kathy Halbreich, the outgoing director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, who’s led some of the most dynamic institutions in the art world. They discuss freedom, finances and what the future holds for museums and those who work in them. “You could not pay me enough money to be a museum director at this point in my life,” says Kathy. “Maybe that's just because I really know what the job is and I think it is one of the most misunderstood and genuinely taxing jobs.”

Mar 16, 2023

Time to take stock this episode with hosts Charlotte Burns and Allan Schwartzman. We look back at some of the big ideas that have emerged throughout the series so far. From change and creativity, to finance and futures, we discuss what’s amazed, delighted—and even filled us with hope. "I think a lot more about excess than abundance," says Allan. "There is a generosity with which the word abundance has been used by a number of the people we've interviewed. I think that that sense of generosity and of abundance comes from an awareness of what the opposite is. And each of these people, in their own way, is either being given power or seizing power — and doing so to create a better world." Tune in for this very special episode.

Mar 9, 2023

We’re still in the city of angels for our second special episode asking ‘What if LA is the future?’ Join host, Charlotte Burns, as she drives from the East Side to Korea Town and out to Santa Monica. We visit the studio of artist and filmmaker, Cauleen Smith, whose life and work centers around building a better world. We also drop in on Kibum Kim, partner and co-founder at Commonwealth and Council - a gallery building a supportive community of artists - who wants to challenge the high-speed efficiency of the current art world model. Both embody what it means to live in the realm of possibility. “I guess what I'm doing is always looking to the relatively recent past of models where people really did do things differently quite successfully,” says Cauleen. Tune in, and subscribe, for more.

Mar 2, 2023

What if Los Angeles is the future? This episode Charlotte Burns visits the city for the first of two extra special episodes. We’re at the Hammer museum with its Chief curator, Connie Butler, before heading over to meet Sue Bell Yank who’s Executive director at Clockshop. Both are experimenting with how to do things differently and how to make LA a sustainable place to be and to create art. Nowhere encapsulates the need to imagine radical new possibilities more than Los Angeles. “LA is an amazing place to think about what our possible futures could look like,” says Sue Bell Yank. “It's a place that’s at the bleeding edge of a lot of crises, from wildfires to floods. How cultural organizations fit into that is really interesting.” Join us for more.

Feb 23, 2023

What if it were possible to dream up entirely new things? Join host Charlotte Burns as she interviews one of the most interesting artists working today. American Artist — who changed their name in 2013 — produces deeply thoughtful work that is as enmeshed in digitization and technology as it is history and alternate realities. American talks about how their art tackles police violence in the US. They also discuss a newer body of work centering on the life and writings of sci-fi novelist, Octavia E. Butler. American says their work is ultimately hopeful: “If I didn’t feel strongly that things could change I wouldn’t even bother. But I want everyone else to try as hard as I do.”

Feb 16, 2023

This episode, Charlotte Burns is joined by Rashida Bumbray whose career straddles different realms within culture. A choreographer and curator, Rashida aims to create new spaces of imagination, empowerment, and connection. While the data and the daily realities of the art world can reflect a scarcity, Rashida’s work—notably the recent organization of artist Simone Leigh’s Loophole of Retreat Summit in Venice—reflects an abundance that is intergenerational, interdisciplinary, and inspirational. This summit represented new possibilities, showing the way to new futures through history, excellence, and potential. A giant 'What If' made real.  Subscribe for more.

Feb 9, 2023

In this episode, we get into some of the biggest What Ifs —about virtue and value, about life and loss. Host Charlotte Burns is joined by one of the most thoughtfully provocative (or cunning, as he’d say), artists of our time,  Paul Chan. He made his name in the early 2000s with film and media works, and by 2008 had found significant success. Then, he stopped making art. Now he’s back with a show called Paul Chan: Breathers, where, influenced by sky-dancers, he literally shapes air. He says “Maybe one way to talk about pleasure is a capacity to control our own time. Time may be the only non-human thing I really care about losing. I can lose everything. I think I've lost everything. I'm willing to lose it all, but I'm not willing to lose time, and that to me is more precious than anything else.”

Feb 2, 2023

What if the art market had more faith in its own future? What if we could improve the health of the swamp? This episode, we consider the state of the market and who better to join Charlotte Burns than co-host, the art advisor Allan Schwartzman, along with Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, director at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and founder of We Buy Gold. Together they discuss the boom and bust, aspiration and desperation - and much more besides. 

Jan 26, 2023

What if we reimagine the role of the museum? What if we bring more intention to what culture can be and do—and by whom and for whom? What if we tell ourselves different stories? In this episode, host Charlotte Burns talks to Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the CEO and director of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art—a new museum founded by filmmaker George Lucas and his businesswoman wife, Mellody Hobson. The institution, which is set to open in Los Angeles in 2025 is one of the most potentially exciting museums in America or around the world, given the scope of its ambition and size. Sandra says: “We’re building an institution, a 200+ year proposition. And we’re doing it amidst the most uncertain moments in our time.” Who better to help us tackle hypotheticals— including dismantling the idea of high and low, and entirely new ways of thinking about art? Join us and tune in.

Jan 19, 2023

What if the world was without ethics? What if financial value was no longer the way we talk about success? Cecilia Alemani, artistic director of the 59th Venice Biennale and director and chief curator of High Line Art in New York City joins host Charlotte Burns to discuss the role of the curator today. 

Cecilia masterminded the recent Biennale through the pandemic to rave reviews, notably for the cool manner in which she presented a new version of art history, bringing focus without fanfare to female and non gender conforming artists and to Indigenous artists. 
 
Tune in for more.
Jan 12, 2023

What if we all name our dreams before following them? This episode we welcome Kemi Ilesanmi, the now-former Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, the non-profit focusing on the art of the everyday, amplifying community and artists as citizens and change agents. This show is all about what ifs, and Kemi operates from that place of abundant possibility. What if businesses invested in their staff, seeding future next generations? What if arts organizations functioned as community assets? Tune in for more.

Jan 12, 2023
What if we separated who funds the museum from who runs the museum on a board level? This episode, host Charlotte Burns welcomes Glenn Lowry who’s been the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York since 1995. He's led the institution through two vast expansions, and, of course, periods of profound change. This is a frank and revealing conversation covering a lot of ground. What if competition and collaboration were the same? What if museums refuse to take in so many works of art? Join us for more. 
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