Art podcasts in tune with the times
Lend your ears to our pick of art podcasts to inspire, empower and keep you company
Lean back into an audial world of art history and art futures with our pick of inspiring culture and art podcasts. From the personal anecdotes and witty repartee of art advocate Russell Tovey’s Talk Art, to the mysterious collision of photography in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Mirror With a Memory, learn as as you listen, and step further into the frame.
Mirror With a Memory
Hosted by American artist Martine Syms, who featured in last year’s Uncanny Valley exhibition at San Francisco’s De Young Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art’s Mirror with a Memory podcast interrogates the meeting point between photography, surveillance, and artificial intelligence. The six-episode series features notable guests including artists Sondra Perry and Lynn Hershman Leeson, author and professor Simone Browne and Forensic Architecture founder Eyal Weizman. The series zooms in on everything from biometrics and covert surveillance operations to racial bias and the environmental impact of AI. cmoa.org
Creative Characters by font and technology specialists Monotype goes behind the typeface to share stories of those shaping the future of design and creative culture. The bi-monthly series features experts across the creative industries who delve into the evolution of design and offer tips for navigating a career in the field. The launch comes after Monotype unveiled ‘Up and Coming’, a series spotlighting new and upcoming voices in the world of typography. Guests so far have included Scott Starrett, co-founder and Principal of NYC design firm Tandem and James Sommerville, lettering artist Jenna Blazevich and James Sommerville co-founder of Known_Unknown and former VP of global design the Coca-Cola Company. monotype.com
This Being Human
This Being Human explores the global, kaleidoscopic experiences of contemporary Muslim life through the lens of arts and culture. Conceived by Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and hosted by journalist and educator Abdul-Rehman Malik, the podcast aims to amplify cultural luminaries who are redefining what it means to be Muslim today. So far, the podcast has seen interviews with the likes of Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and art collector and founder of the Sharjah-based Barjeel Art Foundation Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi. agakhanmuseum.org
This is a podcast with one core goal: to make art accessible. Talk Art was founded in 2018 by actor and avid art collector Russell Tovey and gallerist and former electro-pop band frontman Robert Diament. Through witty, personal and anecdotal insight into the lives of the hosts and their guests, listeners can navigate the important themes and the curiosities of the art world and its relationship to contemporary society. As for the guests, it’s unsurprisingly a world-class, cross-disciplinary roster: from Alice Rawsthorn, Paul Smith and Vik Muniz, to Tracey Emin and Edward Enninful. Now a global sensation, the podcast offers all the familial tone of zesty enthusiasts relishing the opportunity to exercise their infectious passion for art. In May, the concept takes tangible form in a new book, Talk Art: Everything you wanted to know about contemporary art but were afraid to ask, published by Ilex Press. octopusbooks.co.uk
The Great Women Artists
The Great Women Artists Podcast, as its name suggests, is a jubilant, varied and insightful celebration of pioneering women in art. Founded by London-based art historian and curator Katy Hessel, the podcast was created off the back of The Great Women Artists Instagram account and invites curators, writers, artists and art enthusiasts to discuss the female trailblazers who have inspired them. From deep-diving into war photographer Lee Miller’s career to interviews with leading female contemporary artists including Cecily Brown, Cornelia Parker and Shirin Neshat, the platform highlights how women, past and present, have shaped visual culture. Season five will kick off with the ‘Legends’ series, which promises episodes on painters Helen Frankenthaler and Pauline Boty and an interview with American painter and mixed-media artist Howardena Pindell. thegreatwomenartists.com
Foam Talks: Talent Edition
At a time when many of us are unable to enjoy exhibitions in person, there’s a fresh way to experience the work of winners of photographic competition Foam Talent 2020. Mirjam Kooiman, Foam’s curator for the Talent Exhibitions, is hosting a podcast. In the first episode, photographer Philip Montgomery and The New York Times Magazine’s director of photography Kathy Ryan discuss striking a balance between photojournalism and fine art. Another episode has photographer Rahima Gambo talking with Aziza Harmel, curator and writer, on their work together during the 2019 Bamako Encounters: African Biennale for Photography in Mali, titled ‘Streams of Consciousness’. The podcast is a perfect audio accompaniment to Foam Talent 2020’s online exhibition of all 19 winners. talent.foam.org.
Based between Cairo and Jeddah, Radical Contemporary is a platform dedicated to all things creative expression in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Founded by Egyptian writer, creative director and curator Nour Hassan, its podcast – which launched in 2020 – is an audio hub for those at the forefront of creativity and innovation in the region and beyond. The platform offers listeners a hub for creative discourse and an insight into the MENA cultural landscape through contemporary practitioners – from gastronomers to film directors, artists and fashion designers. Its new season, from 3 February, will zoom in on those who have shifted cultural aesthetics in photography, styling and interior design. Guests include Saudi Arabian photographer Hayat Osamah – part of the podcast’s Farfetch Middle East season – and Lana Sawiris, the New York-based art director of Kith. radicalcontemporary.com
Operating in both the audio and visual realms, Being Seen is a platform exploring the gay and queer Black male experience in the worlds of art, fashion, entertainment and activism. Produced by creative studio Harley & Co and writer, activist and author Darnell Moore, the concept delves into how storytelling can be instrumental in changing cultural bias, in everything from awareness around HIV to institutional inequality. The first season, which launched in October 2020, featured guests from across the arts, including actor and musician Luke James and photographer Texas Isaiah. In a distinctive visual twist, each episode is brought to life with licensed and original artwork by leading figures such as Kara Walker, Diedrick Brackens and Ronald Jackson. Season two of Being Seen is in the works and will launch later this year. beingseenpodcast.com.
The Messy Truth
Setting out to bring the mysterious inner workings of the photography industry into open conversation, writer and photo director Gem Fletcher launched The Messy Truth in 2019. Following acclaim from both photographers and the wider creative community, Fletcher has now launched the fourth season, beginning with Farah Al Qasimi then Quil Lemons. Laia Abril is a recent guest, with Ekow Eshun, Coco Capitan and more to come. In the meantime, we recommend exploring previous seasons for conversations with the likes of Carmen Winant, Antwaun Sargent and Eva O’Leary as they discuss visual culture and what it means to be a photographer today. Fletcher sums it up as ‘a framework to explore, share, question and debate and most importantly embolden curiosity’. @gemfletcher