In the final episode with Art After Money author Max Haiven, we talk about:

The history of and the current fate of artist collectives, as prompted by a listener’s thoughtful question; Le Freeport, the ultimate art storage facility, a crypt-like structure which Max visited in Singapore, and describes his experience of being there, and subsequently we discuss what a Freeport, a crypt for rich people’s art and antiques, means for the greater world of financialization; the structural violence (systemic violence) committed by the global capitalist elite, and their tendency to morally insulate themselves from their actions, up to and including building escape hatches and bunkers from New Zealand to Mars; Debtfair and Strike Debt, collectives that formed out of Occupy Museums, which itself was spawned through Occupy Wall Street; the art world politics that led to the creation of Art Prize, and how its populist response to the secretive and collusion-oriented market art world has been a problematic response; how Debt Fair, which was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, operates by calling out the institutions and sometimes even individuals whom participants are literally indebted to; what the future of debt in the U.S. and beyond looks like, vis-à-vis mainstream political support for eliminating debt; the Commons, as seen in collectives formed during the Occupy movement and also how they manifest in relation to art and the history of art; Max’s call for the abolition of art as borne out of the abolition of prisons, and in asking the question “what if were to abolish art?,” including museums, galleries and other institutions, what would creativity then look like?; and how everyone, not just billionaires, but even artists, create structures of avoidance to carry on with our work and not get into too dark of a place.

New York (and sometimes Europe)-based artist, internet activist and hacker Paolo Cirio talks about:

How he makes a living as an artist, mainly through commissions, workshops and guest appearances (and the occasional sale), and spread through several European cities as well as New York, and also how he keeps his expenses (including his rent in NY) low; his near future as an artist, as far as how sustainable his career is financially, should he choose to start a family; his activist roots growing up in Turin, Italy, which he describes as very working class and a lot of consciousness around politics, as well as early interest in computers and eventually the internet; his epic artwork, Loophole for All, in which he hacked into the General Registry of the Cayman Islands and published over 200,000 entities (many of them anonymous shell companies), then offered a certificate of ownership of those companies for $.99, and subsequently what it was like for him dealing with the fallout from that grand action, and how the piece tapped into complex logistics around how legislation is exploited by big global companies; why he chose the Cayman Islands for his project, as opposed to Delaware, which has a similar culture of offshore money laundering, according to Cirio; his contention that the art market is highly censored due to conflicts of interest on museum boards, including board members from tech giants like Google, in addition to his work not being ‘financially exploitable,’ thereby making it very difficult if not impossible for Cirio to exhibit his work in the U.S.; and why he isn’t going to be making an artwork that takes on Trump in conjunction with the upcoming election.

Samuel Harvey, Aspen-based artist and gallerist (Harvey Preston gallery) talks about:

How he initially settled in Aspen through his stints at the Anderson Ranch Art Center; the many versions of Aspen, including the 1%-ers and the regulars, and how he makes his way among them both through his gallery, which he describes as a satisfying operation but also very unpredictable as far providing income, plus the fact that he’s in a tenuous situation with the gallery’s commercial lease; the “happy disaster” of his studio, which is a three-car garage just below his apartment, where the work that he makes as an artist brings him “endless joy,” something that we joke about because of our contrasting in-the-studio experiences; why his gallery is open seven days a week, which is an Aspen thing that has to do with the short on-seasons of sales action; what he’s doing with his United States Artists Fellowship grant money; and the types of clients he has (people who really love the work, as opposed to speculative buyers).

Renny Pritikin, godfather of the Bay Area art community, veteran curator and author of the manifesto “Prescription for a Healthy Art Scene,” talks about:

Being a young poet who got into contemporary art via New Langton Arts, the pioneering San Francisco art non-profit that started back in the ‘70s; his close relationship with art critic, and poet, Peter Schjeldahl, who did a residency back in the early days of New Langton; his “Prescription for a Healthy Art Scene,” a document which he wrote back in the ‘90s, but his students starting putting out in the world a decade later, and then it got printed by galleries and he was finding it on the walls of artists he did studio visits with…; in ticking through the list of Prescriptions (there are 23 total), we discuss a few in particular, which lead to questions around: how realistic some of these points (such as there being plenty of teaching jobs at local art schools/universities) are now….whether graduate education has become something of a Ponzi scheme…why villains are important in an art scene, and more; some very practical things that he taught his curatorial students while at California College of the Arts, including assigning them to write wall texts directed at several different audience types, and how to collaborate as a group; his own experience as a curator, dealing with artists, embracing and coping with varying degrees of reception and critical feedback (including having his shows savaged by one local critic on more than one occasion), and the challenges and pleasures of working with varying artists; putting on the populist and the hit, first American museum show featuring Star Wars, which brought in 120,000 visitors; and the particular satisfaction of having viewers to your show read the wall text you wrote for your show.

 

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.

 

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.

Natasha Degen, Chair of the Art Market Studies program at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, talks about:

Juggling both art market research (including attending art fairs and market-related panels) and teaching/administrative work in her role as chair; the current transition of the market, more towards the most visibly branded and in some cases most powerful galleries, and the greater interest of the public, including globally, in contemporary art; how the brand of Art Basel (Miami) has gained such visibility that people go to Miami for the buzz and the product launches, etc., as much as for the fair itself, which they may not even attend; the goal of increasing diversity in the Art Market program, and the challenge of reconciling class issues that limit the ultimate barriers for entry into the professional art world(s); her prior career as a journalist, in which she got better access but also recognized the extent to which she was swept into the promotional machinery of the art world; the challenges of covering the art market, in getting through/beyond its opacity; the panel about art and money laundering that she participated in; the historically unprecedented rise of China in the art market, whose largest market categories are old masters and decorative art before contemporary art (for now); and the case of one young Chinese artist Natasha visited in New York, who turned down a show at a Lower East Side gallery but had sold out all the work in her studio to a Chinese collector through jpegs only.

In the 2nd part of the conversation with Glasstire editor Rainey Knudson, she talks about:

The farewell tour leading to her departure from Glasstire in June, which is taking the form of a series of talks, covering social media, its power and expanding reach and influence, as exemplified by someone like Jerry Saltz, and its evils, particularly Facebook, which she’s gotten off of and says her life is so much better because of it; how museums have become experiences of commerce as opposed to venues of self-reflection, including the Broad, the long-lined Yayoi Kusama touring hit, and others; artists who are running away from, or not engaging in, the proper art world – including local Houston heroes Jim Pirtle (of the iconic notsuoH bar), and Rick Low of Project Row Houses; how she doesn’t buy into the traditional metrics for success in the art world; and how she’s surprisingly optimistic about the future, despite all signs to the contrary.

Rainey Knudson, the editor of Houston-based online art magazine Glasstire, talks about:

The evolution of Glasstire, including when she started making it her full-time job; her piece (a real “cri de coeur,” which I read from in a past podcast outro, “My Fears and Their Assuagements,” particularly the 1st one about becoming a more critical viewer of art over time, and her ever more challenging hunt for great art; Glasstire’s breakdown of their art reviews over a three year period as far as ‘negative,’ ‘positive,’ and ‘neutral,’ and what Rainey’s assessment of those numbers are in relation to the feedback they get from readers after a review; we do all sorts of comparisons between Houston and Los Angeles’s art scenes (shit-talkers vs. backstabbers) including the freedom Rainey believes Houston artists have as compared with the art capitals, and their being supportive as a whole; how overrated Mark Rothko is; and why artists should still make art.