As of 2021, there are over 2,000,000 podcasts. They span everything from comedy and entertainment to true crime and sports. In a world saturated with digital media, how do you choose what to listen to? We highlight five of the most exciting contemporary art podcasts available today – from deep dives into the lives of women artists to explorations of 20th century sculpture.
Following the success of their first series in 2020, Jo Baring and Sarah Victoria Turner have announced the return of Sculpting Lives this September. Exploring the lives and careers of women who have contributed in ground-breaking ways to the history of sculpture in Britain, Baring (Director of the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art) and Turner (Deputy Director of Research at the Paul Mellon Centre) bring their shared expertise and infectious enthusiasm for sculpture to each 45 minute episode. Having previously examined the work of artists including Rana Begum, Phyllida Barlow and Barbara Hepworth, series two of the podcast will again profile 20th century sculptors alongside lively and informal conversations with their contemporary counterparts.
Contemporary art is often considered difficult to understand: a world of sharks in formaldehyde, bananas taped to walls and beds left unmade. What does it all mean? In Autumn 2018, actor Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament launched the Talk Art podcast. Brought together by a shared love of collecting – and the Young British Artists – they started the show as a passion project with a particular goal in mind: “to help make art more accessible, more approachable, and to share a snapshot of the art world as it is today.” Since then, the duo has been spending time with an impressive range of creatives, learning about their life experiences in making, viewing or working with art. In its first year of broadcasting, Talk Art accumulated over one million downloads, with listeners in 60 countries worldwide. Three years on, and the podcast’s recent guests include Tracey Emin, Tyler Mitchell, Sunil Gupta, Glenn Ligon and Catherine Opie.
Writer and editor of Frieze magazine Jennifer Higgie explores the lives and careers of overlooked women artists from throughout history in this lively and enlightening show. Inviting a special guest each week to nominate an artist to whom we should all “bow down,” Higgie’s subjects range from new-wave film directors to neo-classical sculptors and surrealist painters. Highlights include film critic Laura Mulvey’s discussion of Chantal Akerman’s genre-defining cinematic eye, and writer Olivia Laing on the minimalist masterpieces of Agnes Martin. Higgie’s learned yet unobtrusive presentation leaves space for personal, historical and polemical discussion from a stellar range of interviewees.
Scottish film and installation artist Jason Moyes has been exploring the use of moving image in art since 2007. For Into the Mothlight he interviews experimental film-makers, video-artists and other practitioners for whom the moving image has been a means of exploratory engagement with human and natural worlds. Guests across the first 30 episodes include Mark Jenkin, Cornish director of the critically acclaimed feature film Bait (2019), and MM Serra, director of New York’s Film-Makers’ Cooperative. Recently Moyes spoke to Tako Taal and Adam Benmakhlouf, curators of this year’s LUX Scotland Artists’ Moving Image Festival, about their lunar cycle-themed festival schedule.
Decorating Dissidence is an interdisciplinary project exploring the political and cultural significance of textile arts, incorporating events, exhibitions and an in-house journal. This podcast explores the subversive uses made of decorative arts from modernism to the contemporary era. The show aims to counter an imbalance in the way that artforms such as weaving have traditionally been pigeonholed: as poor cousins of the fine arts, taking a lead from feminist art scholars of the 1970s-1980s such as Rozsika Parker. Over the first season, artists Yaa Addae and Enam Gbewonyo explore textile arts in relation to fashion histories, while Tate archivist Nastasia Alberti discusses curating the craft-based work of Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury Group.
Words: Dominic Blake, Eleanor Sutherland and Greg Thomas
Photo by Ryan Stefan on Unsplash