From the category archives:

Explain Me

Explain Me with Andy Adams of FlakPhoto: From Idyllic Photos to The Surveillance State

by Paddy Johnson and William Powhida on November 2, 2020
Image by Andy Adams. via: flakphoto instagram.

Image by Andy Adams. via: FlakPhoto instagram.

In this episode of Explain Me we talk to Andy Adams (@FlakPhoto on instagram) a culture producer, and long time digital director. Andy is the founder of FlakPhoto Projects, an international community of photographers that operates in a parallel path to the one Powhida and Johnson come from—the New York based studio and museum world. Andy, William, and Paddy began working online around the same time—2003-2005, so we start our conversation there. We track through the exuberance and possibility we saw online in the early aughts, the economic collapse of the late aughts, and fraught political environment we’re now navigating. Subjects include: The signature FlakPhoto style, the ethics of documentary photography, and the the postponed Guston show at the Tate.

References and reading:

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Zombie Figuration Isn’t a Thing: A Critical Autopsy with Antwaun Sargent

by Paddy Johnson and William Powhida on August 4, 2020
Jordan Casteel, "Within Reach", New Museum installation view, 2020. Photo: Dario Lasagni

Jordan Casteel, “Within Reach”, New Museum installation view, 2020. Photo: Dario Lasagni

In this episode of Explain Me, critic and curator Antwaun Sargent joins us to discuss the effects of the pandemic and Alex Greenberger’s Zombie Figuration, a confusing essay that appeared earlier this month in ARTnews. In the first half hour we discuss the disparate effects of the pandemic and general politics. Then we move on to art, zombies,  race,  and why art has limitsListen on Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

BIOGRAPHY

Antwaun Sargent is an art critic and a writer who has contributed to The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vice and more, as well as essays to multiple museum publications. His first book, “The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion” (Aperture) is out now. In April he announced a new partnership with Gagosian that will include working on four exhibitions and contributing features to their magazine.  Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

LISTENER ADVISORY: In this episode, Paddy Johnson occasionally repeats Antwaun Sargent’s words when his audio cuts out. This leads to periodic moments when Johnson and Sargent speak at the same time. 

LINKS

EARLY WHITNEY BIENNIAL REVIEWS 

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Institutional failure, Trump’s Agenda, and Meme-Driven Conservative Movements: A Talk with Nayland Blake

by Paddy Johnson and William Powhida on June 29, 2020
Boogaloo Boys

Boogaloo Boys show off posters supporting Trump at a demonstration

Artist Nayland Blake joins the podcast to discuss the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, mass protests, and the resurgence of COVID as the backdrop for public art and how museums are addressing diversity.  Spearheaded in large part by Blake, we discuss all of these issues  through the lens of what people need and how art makers, art workers and arts institutions answer that need.

We started the conversation with Blake’s recent twitter thread on art criticism.

“Art criticism is the activity of thinking with and through art objects,” they wrote. “If you constantly reach for the same few objects to think with, you stagnate as a critic and simply reinforce your own bias.”

Other relevant links mentioned in the show:

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Revolution for the Family: Heather Bhandari and Nikki Columbus on Pandemic Parenting, Art, and Activism

by Paddy Johnson and William Powhida on May 19, 2020
The Abrons Art Center has paid all their staff and performers during the shutdown.

The Abrons Art Center has paid all their staff and performers during the shutdown.

This week on Explain Me, co-hosts William Powhida and Paddy Johnson talk to arts organizers and activists Heather Bhandari and Nikki Columbus about the challenges for mothers during the pandemic, and the challenges for arts workers seeking to make changes to a system that no longer works for them. 

Of the family-focused topics discussed we take on pandemic screen time for kids (Bhandari describes DinoTrux as terrible for kids, but a necessary evil), what to do if your toddler licks a bodega door, and disrupted schedules that make it impossible to find or look for work and require long and often unusual hours. 

On the subject of organizing we discuss several projects spearheaded by Bhandari and Columbus respectively designed to pave actionable paths for artists. 

Finally we discuss Frieze New York, and contrast their dubious charity efforts during the fair to the more collective NADA art fair model that works towards a sustainable model for everyone. Show links below. 

The Art World Conference 

Forward Union 

Art/Work, Heather Bhandari and Jonathan Melber 

N+1, Free Your Mind, by Claire Bishop and Nikki Columbus

Art+Work+Place, Emergency Session I, Veralist Center

Art+Work+Place, Emergency Session II, Veralist Center

Museum transparency Newsletter (Read about all the layoffs and other bad news that’s happening in the museum world right now—of which there is a ton.)

The Model Model: Ethical Actions by Arts Organizations in the time of COVID-19 (Read about the good news and exemplary work by arts organizations.) 

Obama Commencement Speech

#graduatetogether2020 (twitter hashtag) 

Frieze Art Fair (May 8-15th) 

NADA Fair (May 20-June 21)

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From L.A. With Love: Thoughts on Online Viewing Rooms, Museum Layoffs, and More with Carolina Miranda and Michael Shaw

by Paddy Johnson and William Powhida on April 20, 2020
Steve Locke Student 338, 2016 Hydrocal, galvanized steel nails, procion dye, shellac approximately 12x4.5x5.5" $4,000

Steve Locke, Student 338, 2016, Hydrocal, galvanized steel nails, procion dye, shellac
approximately 12×4.5×5.5″, $4,000. Link to item.

This week on Explain Me, William Powhida and Paddy Johnson speak with artist Michael Shaw and L.A. staff writer Carolina Miranda how quarantining is affecting artists, galleries and journalists on the West Coast. Shaw talks about the prospect of losing his studio of nine years, The L.A. Tenants Union and landlords who are neither friendly nor flexible. Miranda speaks about cuts at the L.A. Times and the surrounding museums, as well as her latest story on how corona is impacting commercial galleries.

We take a virtual visit to the Dallas Art Fair together, and talk about the art we’ve enjoyed recently. All links below.

NEWS

Marciano Collection Announces it won’t reopen in wake of layoffs following union drive. — L.A. Times

MOCA lays off all 97 part time employees — L.A. Times

Uovo lays off pro union organizers while others are paid to stay at home —The Art Newspaper

How Arts Non-profits are responding to COVID – Hyperallergic

LACMA began demolition: But that hasn’t stopped a protest group for an alternate plan—L.A. Times

Painful closures lie ahead for L.A. galleries. How 35 are bracing for the worst. — L.A. Times

ART

The Dallas Art Fair 

Mark Amerika’s Grammatron

Wellnow.wtf

Scott Mendes—Darren Bader’s VR app (still not released)

El Greco Audio Tour—Art Institute of Chicago.

This is Chance—99% Invisible

Sheep video review — The New York Times

The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic — The New York Times

Magda Sawon’s Twitter

SUBSCRIBE

Explain Me Patreon 

The Conversation Patreon

The L.A. Times

Hyperallergic membership

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Explain Me with Jonathan Schwartz of Atelier4 and Magda Sawon of Postmasters

by Paddy Johnson and William Powhida on March 29, 2020
Serkan Özkaya's Proletarier Aller Länder (Workers of the World) 1999, Image via Postmaster's Gallery.

Serkan Özkaya’s Proletarier Aller Länder (Workers of the World) 1999, Image via Postmaster’s Gallery.

In this episode of Explain Me, hosts Paddy Johnson and William Powhida talk to Magda Sawon of Postmasters Gallery in New York, and Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO and founder of Atelier4, an arts logistics company based out of New York. The discussion includes stories and conversations you won’t find anywhere else.

Schwartz reports that at least one logistics company is currently breaking the law to ship art, and that Fedex trucks are in short supply because they’re being used to transport the dead.

Magda describes the challenges for galleries which range from financial burdens to the need to better consider the online art environment.

William and Paddy discuss the financial precarity of artists, writers, and educators.

As a group we talk about what needs to be done to respond to the crisis and what is being done. We also make the mini announcement that we will be launching a Patreon for Explain Me in the next week or two. More details on that soon!

We’re looking at a radical shift in opportunity, so this conversation includes a fair amount of debate. We’re also doing it over zoom, with William on the phone due to an internet connectivity issue. This isn’t the best recording quality we’ve ever produced, but it might be the most important episode. Please tune in.

COMING UP: Resources for freelancers and art organizations. What relief is available and how long it will take to get to the people who need it.

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Explain Me: Standing in Quicksand

by Paddy Johnson on February 12, 2019
Thumbnail image for Explain Me: Standing in Quicksand

We cover a lot of ground in this episode of Explain Me. That ground looks something like this:

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Museum Board Members Fail Moral Challenges, Museum Exhibitions Exceed Expectations

by Paddy Johnson on December 4, 2018
Thumbnail image for Museum Board Members Fail Moral Challenges, Museum Exhibitions Exceed Expectations

Donna DeSalvo assembles some of Andy Warhol’s greatest work for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, while revelations that Whitney Vice Chair Warren B. Kanders owns a company that sells tear gas used at the border shake museum staff. Soul of a Nation at the Brooklyn Museum looks at the history of political activism, while Jack Waters offers a mix of bag of awe inspiring abject art paired with groan inspiring sculptures and paintings. Jack Whitten at the Metropolitan Museum dazzles, Art and Conspiracy flops, and Amazon is going to drive Queens residents out of their homes.

Listen ——>

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Live From Forward Union: Four Women Who Are Using Art to Change the World

by Paddy Johnson on September 29, 2018
Thumbnail image for Live From Forward Union: Four Women Who Are Using Art to Change the World

It’s been a rough news week. Between Thursday’s testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Kavanaugh’s near appointment to the Supreme Court Friday, many of us are exhausted. We would like a win for women.

Sometimes the quickest way to achieve that is to do it yourself. As such, this episode of Explain Me celebrates women who have made waves in the world of art and activism, through a series of interviews with four major figures—Mia Pearlman (Make NY True Blue), Jenny Dubnau (ASAP), Nancy Kleaver (PARADE), and Mira Schor (Selected writing).

In the first half of the show, Mia Pearlman and Jenny Dubnau talk about their work pushing for changes at the city and state level and how being an artist makes that job easier. In the second half, Paddy Johnson and Nancy Kleaver talk about their new public art organization, PARADE, and Mira Schor talks about the history of feminism in art from the 1970’s through to today, and her contributions. Stream it. Download it. Listen to it. This one’s important.

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Explain Me: The Case for Taxing The Hell Out of Peter Brant

by Paddy Johnson on July 16, 2018
Thumbnail image for Explain Me: The Case for Taxing The Hell Out of Peter Brant

In this episode of Explain Me William Powhida and Paddy Johnson discuss the horrific business practices of Peter Brant and Interview Magazine, a fundraising campaign at University of North Carolina so misguided that firing is in order, and the latest headscratching Creative Time project. To help us discuss all of this, and how the new tax code will affect artists accountant and painter Hannah Cole joins us.

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