Tiarney Miekus, host and producer of Art Guide Australia’s podcast, suggests a range of podcasts on art, perfect for those who want to listen as well as look
With such an engaged audience, and the ease with which anyone can start a podcast and engineer a listening experience, this new cultural form is growing in abundance — there are now, Vulture reports, over 660,000 podcasts in circulation, generating 28 million individual episodes. With such staggering numbers, finding the podcasts that resonate with your tastes and curiosities can be difficult. And if your interest is arts and culture, finding the right arts podcast can feel like wandering an endless room — or a long scroll through your iTunes app. As the host and producer of Art Guide Australia’s podcast, I’m regularly sifting through arts podcasts and have crafted a selection from those currently capturing my attention.
A World of One’s Own is clearly a reference to writer Virginia Woolf’s classic feminist essay, A Room of One’s Own. This interview podcast centres on understanding the thoughts and artistic practices of women and gender non-binary artists from a variety of backgrounds. Hosted by artist Tai Snaith, A World of One’s Own initially grew out of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s lauded feminist exhibition Unfinished Business, and soon became a compelling podcast in its own right. Intelligent, relaxed and humorous, Snaith talks to one artist per episode, asking questions across personal, aesthetic and political spheres.
Featuring interviews with artists including Patricia Piccinini, Sally Smart, Megan Cope and Lucreccia Quintanilla (this last is a favourite episode), the podcast is a timely series speaking on topics as diverse as parenthood, artistic risk, experimentation, activism, vulnerability and aspiration. With season two having just wrapped up and season three a possibility, the show has also been artistically generative, influencing Snaith to create her own new work in relation to the conversations.
In the early years, podcasting was stigmatised as simply amateur radio. Now radio hosts and producers are beginning to ensure their programs can also be ‘podcastable’. In Australia, ABC Radio National has been leading this change, creating podcasts based on their regular shows, including The Art Show. Reliably informative and always timely, The Art Show is hosted by Ed Ayres and appears in podcast form almost immediately after the show has aired on radio. Featuring interviews and radio features, The Art Show may not be as intimate or themed as other podcasts, nor revolutionary in its model, but it’s a guaranteed weekly release with well-reported, country-wide content delivered with charm.
Although FIELD WORK only had a short run of eight episodes, they were eight important and interesting episodes. Co-produced by Melbourne artist-run-initiative Bus Projects and Triple R’s Bec Fary, the show was hosted by artist and academic Drew Pettifer who brought together one artist and one expert for each episode, generating a three-way conversation. Every show was grounded by a certain theme that was mined for both its artistic and societal implications. These included environmental activism, bioethics, queer rights and representation, fashion and identity, intersectional feminism, Indigenous trauma, otherness and activism. It’s a smart format in which the pairing of artist and expert gives the art context, while also implicitly illustrating the ways in which societal and political concerns are worked through aesthetically. While I’d rate all of the episodes, a personal favourite is the environment-centred show pairing artist Raquel Ormella and Greens Member of Parliament Adam Bandt.
With a new episode released roughly every four weeks, each show begins with an audio montage of ‘everyday’ museum and gallery visitors explaining what they see, and their opinion of what they see. This immediately overcomes a central problem that podcasts discussing artworks may have: listeners can’t see the artwork. After these anonymous descriptions Avishai picks up the conversation, mixing intelligent reflection with the historical, cultural and aesthetic particulars of each artist and painting being unpacked. While the show does tend to focus on white, male masters such as Marcel Duchamp, Rembrandt, and René Magritte, it will be interesting to see if moving forward Avishai gives greater air time to more historically marginalised artists.
True to its name, The Art Newspaper is centred on art news. For Australian listeners, it gives perspective and insight into the art world at a more global (particularly American) level, with episodes not only containing interviews with artists and features on exhibitions, but explorations into the art market, the processes of collectors and dealers, and the economics and politics of art fairs and events. In essence, you get information on how both artists and the art world work, and on the big events of the moment. Released weekly, each episode features multiple guests and voices, with an hour-long focus on one or two main questions or exhibitions, delivered in a reportage style.