so let’s start just quick reference to seven days in the art world which as Becky says examined key institutions in the in the art world and you know we’ve talked about that auction house art school magazines and such a 33 artists and three acts focuses primarily on artists and other art world datas Tennyson’s and so as a sociologist this represents the kind of associate the sociological dichotomy of structure versus agency which is institutions and patterns that influence our limit choices and opportunities versus the capacity of individuals to act so how did writing seven days lead you to think that you needed to write the new book and then what is the relationship you see between the structure and agency Thank You Vince and thank you Becky and it’s great to be here let’s see so when I finished seven days in the art world I felt like there were two things I wanted to understand better one was the art market and the other was artists and I started writing for The Economist and wrote 65 articles not all of them about the market but a substantial number about the market and at the same time I started researching this book it seems to me that the artist is the central mystified figure around which the art world revolves and we couldn’t have an art world with art without artists I started asking the question what is an artist in act two of seven days in the art world when I was out in Los Angeles sitting in on Michael Asher’s post Studio Creek class and also interviewing a lot of artists teachers out there like Mary Kelly and Chris Burton who taught at the time Hirsch Perlman and John Baldessari and I was kind of laughed out of town for asking the question what is an artist you know a senior curator with a university job said well when I said what what is an artist he said well you know when when you see one you know like and of course being a sociologist who’s kind of part Chicago school part Pierre Bourdieu my response well well what does nerdist look like then you know because if you’ve read pierre bourdieu’s tome called distinction where he talks about things like habitus it becomes clear that we position ourselves socially through our appearance and through our tastes sometimes unconsciously sometimes very self-consciously so you know so then going to your question of structured agency I think that I was very open when I started researching this book as to what the balance might be I think that there’s an ideology in the art world that artists are the victims of the art world and I am increasingly of the mind that they have more agency than they think and that you know even artists without a lot of recognition there are things that they can do but certainly you know most of the artists in this book have some kind of recognition somewhere each act includes an artist who teaches but they whole teaching jobs as artists there’s a couple of artists in the middle middle of the book who have day jobs that are not so related one is an art teacher and that’s quite different from being an artist teacher in terms of the boost it gives to your status within the art world you know having a job at an arts school is a you know teaching aspiring artists is different from you know being in middle school teaching non artists but yes so I’m meandering around Josh because just you know to kind of follow up with that you know that asking that question what is an artist seem to violate some sort of taboo and so as a social scientist of course that raises a flag that means I must have to go there and so you now then use the question to conduct the interviews and in many of the in many of the vignettes in the book you mentioned the fact that you know I’ve asked this question here’s the answer so how did posing this question give you insight into the artists and

can you give some kind of interesting examples of people who had interesting responses and then at the same time those who you know did one of these who bombed yeah I mean I think the book is full of implicit and explicit answers to the question and I mean I have my favorites kind of change from day to day I was interested in the fact that when Geshe Muthu who is a Kenyan born Brooklyn based artist when I asked her what is it when I asked her when we started asked talking about it she and told me that in her mother tongue Kikuyu there is no word for artist and actually the closest term is magician interesting or a person who imbues objects with power and meaning which is a very interesting definition of a ready-made and then as the conversation rolls on I asked her what kind of artist are you and she says that she’s this sees herself as a tattle-tale or the one who tells the family secrets and that intrigued me for a couple of reasons because I think it’s a slightly gendered answer and I’m very interested in gender and the obstacles to credibility that women artists have experienced in the past and I also think perhaps the role of the tattletale is a little bit my role within the art world so it’s when I identify with AI weiwei who gives about you know three interviews a day and is never at a loss for words when I asked him what as an artist he didn’t initially have an answer he started telling me the story of his father who trained as an artist but then had to give up painting while he was imprisoned he fell afoul of the Chiang kai-shek government at that time because he was a communist and in in the three years he was in prison then he abandoned painting but took up poetry to the degree that he’s now taught middle schools in China then his father fell afoul of the Maoist government was deemed a rightist and was exiled to the remote provinces of China where he cleaned latrines and did other menial labor and this is how I Weiwei grew up knowing his father as an enemy of the state and so at the end of this anecdote I asked him so does that mean that you think being an artist is an enemy of the state and he said you know being an artist is to be an enemy of general sensibilities you know which is a very compelling romantic avant-garde definition and I think that one that he can credibly inhabit living in a non democracy with no freedom of speech but what might defy credibility if you live in New York or LA or Detroit you know we live in a pluralistic society like where exactly is the general Sensibility and so I mean I’m interested in I’m not interested so much in personas or shallow masks I’m interested in the public identities of artists and the stories they tell themselves to give what they do meaning for themselves I mean I I see the stage as a kind of platform for one’s personal self so you know there’s and then there are artists who don’t give me a straight answer to the question but then inadvertently give me lots of metaphoric answers you know someone like Jeff Koons might fall into that category it’s very hard to get a straight answer out of Koons but you know over the course of his various scenes because there are nine recurring characters in the book and I compare and contrast them and the foils for each other in Act one or highway way and Jeff Koons he you know refers to artists as door-to-door salesmen as heretics there’s a sexualized metaphor running through his various scenes he seems to link virility and creativity in a pretty old-school way and and so someone who contrasts quite dramatically with him would be someone like Frances Elise when I asked him what kind of an artist he is he says well I’m just a midwife I’m the guy on the side you know helping deliver the work and so I I think one of the things that’s so exciting is there are so many different answers to this question and and what other roles in society could be so highly customized and could offer such rich metaphors and to be honest I

can’t think of one right excellent so and you’ve started to touch on the this notion of artists and what we might call performativity and don’t mean to use too many syllables here in a second and so the narrative of the book is divided into three sections you call them acts politics kinship and craft and so can you talk about your decision to focus on those three areas and you know these are basically structures as fields within which artists kind of Express agency yes well I did 130 and sorry I interviewed 130 different artists for the book many of them I interviewed multiple times and it was only after the first hundred interviews that I decided on these themes of politics can ship and craft and there are a lot of reasons for doing so I mean the first is because these are the themes that kind of divide artists from non artists within the ideology of the art world so someone like AI weiwei he you know there are times when press reaction has been is he an artist or is he a politician is he an artist or an activist is he an artist or a didactic illustrator this is you know a borderline which kind of confronts our our notions of what an authentic artist is supposed to be similarly artists versus craftsmen very long history there are you an artist or a designer you know when you when I first start interviewing an artist they will invariably say oh you know since Andy Warhol there’s no such thing as authenticity it’s all about artifice and of course anyone can be an artist and then like three hours into the interview they’ll be saying oh him he’s not a real artist you know so you know I I think the thing is that since do Saul in particular being an artist has actually become more difficult because when an artist has the godlike authority to designate something as art well that authority can be very hard to command and so you know I think young artists are acutely aware of this when they graduate with a BA or an MFA from art school they actually don’t automatically call themselves artists necessarily you know you have conversations with them and they’re like you know what do you do well I make work you know not you know there’s all sorts of awkwardness and actually I can I could read well you know there’s there’s I’m always interested in that moment where an artist feels confident declaring themselves an artist and there are different things that fuel different people’s self leaf you know occasionally like Laurie Simmons one of the artists in the book you know she walked into kindergarten said you know hi I’m Laurie Simmons I’m an artist but you know how many five-year-olds might say that and then actually end up being one anyway right well and just to follow up interestingly you know the first person who appears in the politics section is in fact Jeff Koons when some people might think is kind of an odd pic can you talk about that just for a little bit yes I mean I you know there’s so much written about Koons and mostly about the market and I’m really interested in teasing out the politics of things that aren’t supposed to have a politics and Koons doesn’t really want to talk about politics he doesn’t want to talk about his market either he does want to talk about anything that might disturb his saleability and the desirability of his work and so I think you know slowly over the course of the act with repeated encounters and seeing him contrasted with artists like Martha rösler or a Turkish artist quote ligado Minh when Keshi Muthu Gabriel Orosco Chilean artists called johani oh did born who came of age during as an artist during the reign of Pinochet that it becomes clear that you know there’s he certainly has a politics you know something that Martha Rose Lazare identifies as neoliberal politics and you know the the salesmen metaphor that he himself evokes is something we witnessed together in the book at least in abu-dhabi when he’s strangely I get invited to Abu Dhabi to interview both him and Larry Gagosian on

stage at the same time which you know I and I actually there is always more encounters and more interviews that when can one them one can put up it put in the book but I as it happens on the beat for the economist also bumped into Coons in Kiev Moscow Doha Oh actually he appears in Doha at the end as well briefly in another scene with but you know in the circuit I think it’s it’s it is actually really interesting to look at Coons through that filter and then by the same token there in the craft section there are several conceptual artists and again the common idea might be well you know what’s what’s the craft involved there and maybe if you couldn’t talk just a little bit about that yes yes I mean I define craft in the broadest sense of the word as all the skills required of a contemporary artist today and so that includes you know negotiating with dealers and curators and collectors navigating the art world of one’s peers delegating or not delegating it includes all the traditional crafts skills but of course a lot of these artists are ideas people who are more like architects of thereof and they’re not laying every brick but they’re just trying to find the most skilled bricklayer to do the job for them and so there are certain artists in that part of the book like Damien Hirst or Isaac Julian who work with large teams of craftspeople and in the case of Isaac Julian who’s a filmmaker I’m actually on set with him with 35 craftspeople all at the same time you know there’s the director of photography the gaffer the costume people the script people like there they’re all present and we’re watching him kind of orchestrate the work someone like christian mark lee best known for his 24 hour video the clock very different kind of filmmaker who doesn’t make his own images but appropriates them he’s still dependent on a team of six assistants sourcing the material for him he doesn’t tend to meet them but as i meet him he’s in the lie i was the only writer to visit him while he was making the clock he’s got excruciating carpal tunnel and as he he’s been working so hard on this marathon video that he’s got his hand bandaged up and taped together and he’s you know working with two mice and doing these 12-hour days and actually suffering physical pain in the process of making conceptual art you know who would have thought conceptual art was such a physical process but of course there’s still you know the execution to be done and and also one of my arguments is that ironically since do Shaw and with conceptual art that when the authenticity and authority of the work shifts away from the hand it actually kind of takes over the whole body of the artist and ironically being an artist becomes a craft and talk a bit about you will have seen some slides going by of you know I don’t think I mean I think that you know do shawl when as I study it as an art history student many years ago he was kind of completely purified and you know I didn’t know that he’d actually been a dealer for twenty years of his life trading brand koozies and Picabia ‘he’s you know i wasn’t clear on how he kind of crafted these alter egos and an alternative selves you know I was and and I think it’s no accident he started crafting ideas at the same time he started crafting identities and one of the images that will be coming in shortly is of labelled helen hyland this perfume bottle in which he kind of deployed man ray is an assistant because man ray took the photograph of him in drag as Rose Sullivan there’s the the picture of douche all in exactly that spot you’d find like Uncle Ben or any brand identity I think we’ve got two more slides to wait for this one it’s coming okay but anyway well and so let’s let’s talk a little bit more about to Sean in one of the vignettes whenever the narratives and on the left hand page yeah on the right hand page there’s a picture of a chest a queen to be exact and so this of course evokes Duchamp who you know famously retired from art to play chess yeah but it also references art as a kind of game and so can you talk about how just two-part question here you know how Duchamp foreshadowed the current

moment in art and then also what are some of the strategies you encountered as far as how different artists play their game yes well the game metaphor comes from dushawn no doubt and actually the introduction opens with you know each scene has a chapter opener an image opening the chapter and there’s a an artwork by Gabriel Orosco which i think is also in this slideshow where which is a chess board in which all the pieces are Knights but the Knights are four different colors and so it suggests tribes but it also suggests a kind of very egalitarian structure and looks a bit more than I think like a dance floor than a war game but you know that clearly is not a depiction of the art world the art world is intensely hierarchical I’m not a gala terian at all so yes the game metaphor comes from Duchamp but it also actually comes from Pierre Bourdieu of course who talks about the field of art and the way the game is played and I think that artists who are with high levels of a recognition actually really do know they’re playing a game of sorts even if they believe entirely and what they do in what they do and I I kind of tested it out on on most of the artists in the book and and you know so much of their time is absorbed with the thing outside the frame or not on the pedestal and and so much of their job is about reputation management you know deciding even what you know when they’re at a certain position when they have the choice of dealer you know who to show with who to sell to all of those kinds of things take up an enormous amount of their time and yes the Queen seemed to be the right chess piece Knights are far too restricted in their movements and you know so you know an artist on top of their game is ruling the roost and they they are queen of course that’s you know not true the vast majority but but once an artist is on a certain level they’re there they’re the queen of the board so I’m gonna take us down a bit of a sociological nerd moment here which is you know to reference book taking making the link of birth you when he was teaching at University of Pennsylvania the one American sociologist he admired most was urban Goffman so there’s a connection between bourdieu and the Chicago School and so this idea of Acts reflects the sociological theory of Kaufman’s which is you know the dramaturgical perspective that human interactions are akin to a theatrical performance that are into our interactions have a front stage which is what we perform in front of others in a backstage the so-called private moments and in fact you cite Kaufman’s presentation of self in everyday life in 33 it is in the bibliography and that’s the book where really this theory is set out so how did this inform your researching and writing of the book did you ever feel that you got into a backstage or were the artists always performing with you as the audience the let’s see that’s a wonderful question you know when you when I events very kindly sent me these questions on Saturday or I’m not sure Sunday Friday’s something like that and I saw that and I thought you know I haven’t read urban Goffman since my early days as a PhD student and so it’s a little foggy although I think I’ve just kind of absorbed it and and I I mean I worked really quite in ten lovely with some Chicago School sociologists works like Howard Becker and Ned Polsky I guess is like diffusion line Chicago school or law Humphries I mean a lot of the ones who are really working on subcultures and finally enough that the the book by Goffman that sticks in my head most strongly is asylums actually and so my immediate reaction then to the front stage backstage is it as possible I’d have to reread Goffman to really get into an academic debate with you on it but I think that we’re among friends exactly I mean I wonder if it still makes entire sense in this age of the Internet where people’s bedrooms are online because I’m having increasing problems distinguishing public from private and everybody seems to put it in a different

place and so I think people are performing intimacy and performing privacy in a way that suggests that the front stage is way to hell backstage you know and I’m you know I’ll give you an example Carroll Dunham and laurie simmons are i was very keen to have an artist couple with compo levels of recognition in the book and eventually found TIFF as he’s called tipped anuman and and laurie simmons and i think they may dread 70s in the art world and so they trusted me and would disagree with each other in front of me and and and I think we’re extremely open in what they would discuss with me and one thing that’s very hard to get artists to discuss as their own crises in confidence because in a way they’ve at least that they almost have to have like 100 percent conviction in their work otherwise you know they’re they’re failing it in some way but maybe I’ll just read a couple of paragraphs from a moment where I’m weird about getting bad reviews or you know not getting any and moments in there Kurt because they’re in their 60s now moments where they felt like they weren’t getting the attention you know mid-career lulls and things like that and so I asked them about their insecurities and anxieties and it’s interesting to compare their very different ways of coping so Simmons says when you are younger you think about eradicating self-doubt but as you age you understand that it is part of the rhythm of being an artist as I get older I have developed my ability to examine self-doubt in private to play around with it rather than push it away Donham by contrast experiences his uncertainty as a strange mixture of self-loathing and megalomania humans set up hierarchies and we are constantly judging he says in the morning you tell yourself you’re a horrible artist by afternoon you might feel like a God by dinner you’re a lesser angel and it’s very interesting to hear their thoughts about competition and it was funny because I interviewed other artists couples and but I had a lot of restrictions around access one couple did not want to be interviewed apart and the other couple only wanted to be interviewed apart and thankfully chip and Lorrie were like really open-minded and and you know I interviewed them apart together and and sometimes for like two days going in their relationship must have taken kind of a weird turn in the last couple of years absolutely and when I first started it basically the timeline of each act is from summer 2009 through the time of writing 2013 give or take a few months and while when I first met them their daughter Lena Dunham was an Overland graduate working on a a film that hadn’t been released and that kind of thing and then over the course of my repeated visits with them she got an HBO contract then starred directed and wrote her own series called girls won in Golden Globes and and in the end I included both Grace and Laurie sorry Grace and Lena in in that act because the interviews I always interview outside the box and actually there are kind of lists of curators and collectors and dealers in the acknowledgments who I interviewed to get a perspective on the artists who are in the book but occasionally you know the interviews are so good I pull him in and Lena’s rise affected both of her parents sense of self Lori talks about you know having been known publicly as the artist laurie simmons and then all of a sudden she’s lena Dunham’s mom you know and and how to tackle that and you know Carole Dunham who thinks celebrity culture and I’m quoting he says he he says the celebrity culture is a pile of up crap you know he by the same token it’s like well you know I’ve always loved listening to NPR and I love Terry Gross and then all of a sudden you know my daughter’s talking to her like I might have loved to do an interview on fresh air you know are either them planning on writing their daughters cocktail to success well I mean it’s you know anyway and then so grace Lina’s sister actually gives me a very articulate interview about being the daughter of artists and growing up in an artist community in Brooklyn where like all the adults seem to be artists and actually has some very

clear minded ways of almost like you know the child who tells he oh the Emperor’s got no clothes on like for me that scene is a little bit like that with some of the things she says she’s just quite frank about some of the judgments and the value judgments are that are so prevalent in the art world you know like in in preschool you know she meets some kid whose parent is also an artist and she’s like oh so where does your dad show you know agen for you know right you know that that coffee shop it worked already you know and it is you know artists aren’t supposed to be competitive with each other because it’s all supposed to be so internally driven but you know the the hierarchies brutal and and and and excruciating to live through you know and one news tactics for dealing with it right well I’m gonna ask you one more question then we’ll start getting into the audience involved because it’s about that time so basically you know we where you’ve been we’ve been talking about identity and the crafting of the artists identity as you know self construction and part of that process and you mentioned it already which is you know a finding one’s own true you know path and yet there are some there are patterns that emerge among the artists in the book and so I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about that in fact I was talking with one of the the board members prior to the to the meeting and and he said well you know I don’t know if we’re supposed to take this as a kaleidoscope or a series of vignettes or if we’re supposed to see the patterns to which I said yes you’re supposed to see them both and so could you talk just a little bit about that yes I mean I always told people please read the book and order and you know I think the seven days in the art world you could like start at chapter two and then go back to chapter one a little bit I mean I always prefer people to read things in order I think it works best in order but it doesn’t kill the book I don’t think to skip around I think what this book you really do want to read it in order because of the way the echoes and nuances kind of come into play and the way artists talk about other artists and that kind of thing and themes are revisited you know the my pinup on the cover of the book is Andreea fraser and one of the reasons she’s on the cover in the way she is and and she’s a central character in act 3 she’s the foil to damien hirst Andreea fraser a feminist performance artist who teaches at UCLA is the anti Hearst actually in my terms she’s done a lot of work about being an artist many many performances kind of dissecting the the myth of the artists and the mutant and when I asked her what is an artist she says an artist is a myth and I’ll actually maybe I’ll quote that and then I’ll quote something else by her you allow me oh I’m totally in the wrong place here yes she says an artist is a myth most artists internalized the miss myth in the process of their development and then strive to embody and perform it which is why it’s sometimes hard for artists to consciously give an answer and will often inadvertently give one and then slowly towards the end of scene might offer something up one thing that I think R accurs’d throughout the book as a pattern is and it’s something that Fraser finally nails on the head is that many artists have fantasies of omnipotence she talks about she’s very well-read not only in Pierre Bourdieu in sociology but well-read in psychoanalysis and she talks about this British psychoanalyst called DW Winnicott who had this theory that infants suffer this like horrendous narcissistic insult when they realize they’re not the center of the universe and and and it’s her theory that artists like to hold on to this childhood fantasy and and and and and it makes sense in a lot of ways I mean you’re you are you know the commander of your work you can create a world in a universe in over which you can Lord you know from a Duchamp peon point of view if you’re the one with the power to designate something as art that’s kind of you know can feed into your fantasies of omnipotence throughout the book it’s really it took me aback it took me aback the degree to which artists would strangely and inadvertently invoke Saints and heretics and God and the

heavens and things like that so you know after Andreea Frazer kind of tells me about her theories and she’s articulate on various fantasies I say to her so and I’ll just quote I say to her do dream of being a god and she says well maybe the way babies do and they are worshipped by their parents one of the core fantasies of artists is unconditional love and the associated unconditional value attributed to anything we produce is not first of all about money is about love attention recognition regard and freedom from shame awesome okay that sounds like a great place to open the questions up to the audience and as Becky said there’s mics on both sides and so what we’ll do is people if you have a question come up to the microphone and we’ll kind of alternate one side to the other they seem like they’re rather close to the low your and let people hold them okay because I thought it seemed kind of like shameful to be standing right next to the wall like that okay there’s anyone up here may John Corben I okay then John Sarah I actually am for five years and in the administration level and then as an intern at a Contemporary Art Gallery in Denver and I actually read your book seven days in the art world during that time recommended by my boss who was a male at the gallery and what I wonder is is I have over the past eight years I’ve worked in so at so many different galleries and museums and I just wonder have you ever become jaded because you’re so and honestly because just because you’re so you are in it more so than most people are and I’m just I’ve always been curious when I read your step are you jaded at all by it um at a contemporary art market in particular yeah absolutely and I love years ago I wrote a piece called my top ten reasons for not writing about the art market yes I read that and and that I had to write that for because I was so burnt out covering the auctions and it’s not because I am against the buying and selling of art and it’s not and I actually find the art market incredibly fascinating but what I couldn’t bear was feeling like I was a cheerleader for engineered prices that I didn’t believe in and I I am actually very proud of some of the pieces I wrote for the Economist I wrote a piece and a few of them are I’ve kept on my website actually my my classics for The Economist as I see them i I I wrote a piece on Damien Hirst art market after beautiful inside my head forever which is one of the reasons he hates me you can read about that here I wrote a piece on women’s prices amazingly art net had never generated a you know top tens or twenties of gender breakdowns for prices and when I asked them to do it initially Anish Kapoor was amongst the ladies because Anish Kapoor kind of sounds like it could be a woman I guess you know and and you know and so and then that that article kind of now there’s like it’s a regular thing that happens on all those blogs you know they’re like once every season someone’s taken account of like you know and also last last week was it Georgia O’Keeffe or how many days ago it was it that greatly forward for for women’s prices yes so I just could not do any more writing of that kind and I I will be writing for The Economist come January when I returned to journalism but I will not be writing auction reports I mean I think that I am against chandelier bidding I am against through party guarantees there they both in my opinion should not be legal they’re about part there a lot of people believe it or not think the auctions are like a transparent you know it’s just ridiculous you know there and what is a market like the chandelier and the one guy on the phone is being do you know I think an auction market should have two real bidders minimum you know and if there isn’t an if there isn’t a second real bitter then it should be clearly apparent which isn’t when you’ve got chandelier bidding and that kind of thing and of course people think I’m a

terrible killjoy you know but but yeah so I think that I keep alive my interest in things by through research and it doesn’t mean that I believe in everything you know they’re artists I left out of the book because I in the end didn’t believe in them you know it’s and and we’re all making those decisions as we every time we especially when we’re you know with living artists we’re going to a group show we’re like wow that’s amazing what’s this you know it’s actually part of the fun of contemporary art making those judgments I don’t make them explicitly in books like this because trained is an ethnographer I really think it’s way more interesting for me to look at all the dynamics going on and to reserve judgment I think way too much of the writing about art is about what you like and you dislike and it’s a taste war and and and and so yeah there we go ahahahaha I have a question here John Corben so just before you ask that you answer that first question you had ended by talking about omnipotence and God and I was thinking about the title of the book 33 days and 3x and I just wondered where the 33 came from and yes the fun yet by the illustrate it’s actually 33 artists but New York magazines for some reason is called their art blog currently called it 33 days in the art world anyway so 33 artists let’s see you I mean I think I I love numbers and I love but one of the reasons I actually enjoyed for quite some time writing about the art market as I do love numbers but I think I kind of unconsciously was aware that there’s a christian association with as well clearly was seven but and also 33 it was the age jesus was when he was crucified it was the age jesus is said to be when he was crucified i i mean i don’t i have become more aware of that through being questioned it wasn’t really a conscious thing when I was writing the book it just felt right I guess it felt like a memorable title they’re actually only 29 artists in the book well and I do have an alibi for that well I haven’t you know Gertrude Stein wrote a libretto for Saints in three acts and they’re actually 20 Saints in the libretto so I thought I’d borrow her poetic license so I’d like to ask you were there any biases sorry where are you oh there we are sorry thank you where there are any biases in your mind that directed you to end up with that certain group of artists versus another equal number of artists absolutely I the the the the book is biased towards the honest in the articulate that doesn’t mean that every artist in the book loves giving interviews or or even answers all of my questions I’d say probably Jeff Koons Andy’s an Cindy Sherman are fairly reluctant interviewees but there there’s definitely a bias towards artists who are willing to collaborate with me willing to kind of take on my questions which weren’t so conventional who kind of hadn’t perhaps an intra-day in the art world and enjoyed it or we’re interested in sociology or those kinds of perspectives I mean there were I had some pretty antagonistic interviews as well like I cite one interview with actually historically one of my favorite artists I quote him in the introduction when I asked him what is art he said an artist makes it sorry when I asked him what is an artist he says an artist makes art end of story like I’m not gonna have the conversation with you and you know surprise surprise is not in the book I actually also felt like he was pretty disingenuous I mean this is someone who is a photographer who fought to be called an artist many years ago and there’s there has done very interesting forms of self-portrait which would suggest that he was highly aware of the social role of the artist and my feeling was that he developed a discourse in the late 70s and early 80s

which was a very formalist discourse a very strategic discourse at that time and that it frankly no longer rang true to me and so I did interview quite a few artists who beggared my belief and of course you know Koons beggars a lot of people’s belief and he’s in there for a lot of I think very good reasons you need an artist like that also people like Koons and Hearst and I Weiwei our artists that other artists refer to when asked the question what is an artist they’re the kind of benchmark against whom they measure themselves and distance themselves you know half the artists I interviewed don’t think Damien Hirst is an artist anymore since he did a Sotheby’s sale the other half think that this other B cell was a conceptual event and a landmark in an artist taking control of the market so I was very interested in global spread I was interested to make cross-cultural comparisons I interviewed younger artists but ended up cutting them out there are no very emergent artists in this book I did my PhD on youth culture on dance clubs and raves and it’s basically a study of hypnocil which is why I’m I have no fear of being uncool it’s you know my my place so in the end I cut the younger group out it’s a two generational book I would say not three generational I just couldn’t have that many variables on the go the mean I mean the the artists are born in the 50s and 60s for the most part with a few outliers yo-yo Kusama is the oldest artist in the book and I’m I’m not sure I think probably Rashid Johnson would or William Pao heat it would be the youngest I I was keen to have a Accenture try to you I mean none of these are to stand in for anybody else they’re just themselves and any artist who as a type as a stereotype is just not doing a very good job in their role I think but I was keen to try to capture some of the variation within the field so there are artists academics and artists who are entertainers they’re ultrason arsonists materialists and idealist you know people haven’t made an art object in 20 years someone like Andrea Fraser and performance artists and the rest of it so you know every any other person would have had a different cohort I guess but I whatever the case I think there are a lot of bases covered through the themes and actually another reason why I went with these themes politics kinship and crafts is because they are not what you’d find in an art form special issue and they’re not typical of art criticism today and it felt like a way of really opening up contemporary art to people who don’t even think they like it you know I have a psychoanalyst friend who bought the book and read the book because he’s a friend of mine and thought he hated contemporary art just thought it was kind of luxury good for the 1% and he couldn’t believe how interesting these works were because actually he’s interested in politics in the broadest sense ethics freedom of speech human rights he’s interested in kinship and collaboration and muse relationships and love at the end of the day and craft being a kind of you know how to execute things well how to do the the best job one can that kind of thing hi I wanted to ask you about entrepreneurship and which artists were the most inept entrepreneurs or maybe the most turned off by entrepreneurship and then also sort of the flip side category that you seem to be working with which is sort of vocation or sort of this priestly calling and we artists were maybe most sort of making the art almost for themselves or butts in been somehow still managed to have a pretty wide audience so yeah sort of like who fails as an entrepreneur but still difference is out there I’m not sure I can tell you who fails as an entrepreneur I mean I can tell you who evokes entrepreneurship as part of their sense of self and who distinguishes themselves so someone like Carroll Dunham his position kind of changes over the four years of our conversations and initially he is

talking a kind of he says you know I make work for me myself and I and I kind of insist on unpacking that with him like who exactly are me myself and I and then he you know kind of back tracks into thinking well maybe that is a little romance that I tell myself and and I think there’s a lot of pressure on artists to say that they just do it for themselves as the scenes with roll on through act to kinship he then you know actually I’m practically walking into their Tribeca apartment and he’s saying you know I’ve got a better a different answer for you this time he said you know any saying you know maybe being an artist is just a radical form of entrepreneurship and it’s like hey I’ve got a great idea I’d like to share this idea with you and he’s self-conscious about it and he’s not sure he’s comfortable with that idea so you know it’s interesting someone like zing fanzi who is an extremely successful Chinese painter who has a studio around the corner from a Weiwei but it was kind of like the absolute opposite by Weiwei you know there’s a machine ease situation is very very different a lot of them espouse modernist principles rather than contemporary art principles and they can almost it almost sounds like they’re talking about outsider artists sometimes you know it’s about self-expression and the craft of it and all that kind of thing and one metaphor that I encountered while doing a lot of interviews with artists in Beijing was the the conceptual artist was like the owner of the factory and the honest painter was like the honest peasant worker kind of Marxist twist on the distinction I think that there you know the myth of the kind of impoverished artist the van Gogh you know is I mean that there is no longer the cultural media icon of our time of course because so many of the media icons are extremely rich one of the things that artists are most uncomfortable talking about is money because it’s well-known that commerce can really dent your credibility and I fact-checked all the scenes with the artists themselves included including the scene with Katie Nolan and you’ll see in the book there’s a little footnote that was fact checked with lawyers but in through the fact not with her actually but through the fact-checking process with some of the other artists the one thing that was like clearly causing a teeny bit of anxiety was like references to their homes and references to wealth you know so little little quibbles about well you know it’s not really a house it’s just a shack on an Italian island but you know you know I don’t really own it I rent it or you know well you know I’d like to get the facts right but yes sir Sara Vince this is a wonderful conversation thank you both very much maybe your next book should be a sociology on the artists as nouveau riche but that aside politics kinship craft I think there is one your title is 33 artists in three acts you don’t need to be Shakespearean you don’t need to be Greek to understand the role of dramaturgy in all up in all of that and from the Greek tradition there is one word I think that encapsulates all of the three things that you’re talking about in your in your work politics kinship and proud and that’s conflict right there is no there is no apt no dramaturgy in the Greek sense without conflict there is no in fact Stuart Hampshire one of great English philosophers who also taught a Princeton wrote a talk with a incredibly simple title justice is conflict and it was all based on Greek thinking justice is conflict and so I wonder if you might not be able to talk about the way in which everything that you have presented today is really an extraordinary

choreography of conflict containment omsa I really love that phrase choreography of conflict I’m gonna have to quote you is it really Michael stone Richards thank you Michael stone Richards I missed that story you won’t read the book out of sequence thank you I mean I think going back to sociology I mean historically there’s the conflict the school that sees conflict and the functionalists and I am very I’ve very much come from the conflict tradition of sociology you know the art world is a battlefield in which people are you know fighting for recognition of different kinds and and I do you know set up these juxtapositions which are conflictual you know in the middle I haven’t hadn’t mentioned that the kinship theme gives rise to clusters so we have the entire Dunham Simmons family and they are contrasted with Mauricio Catalan and his brothers in crime to italian curators called francesco Bonomi and Massimiliano joni who have actually been instrumental in Catalans discourse Massimiliano joni presented his self as catalan on four radio interviews telephone interviews and also museum lectures for eight years and francesco Bonomi is so involved in the Catalans work that he tends to title a lot of the works and then they in turn are contrasted with Cindy Sherman who’s my true loner because not even her assistant is allowed to make her see her making her work the assistant works remotely I mean I’ve been asked is it a tragedy or comedy and I I i liked i mean i’m i’m i love humor and i hope there are a lot of amusing juxtapositions but there are some moments that it can be heart-wrenching and and it actually amuses me to no end that the scene the final scene in the book involves a few tears with Andreea fraser but it’s not really cruel hi hi um I’m curious about how you catalog the people that you meet with I noticed in 70s in the hard world you would often prep me as the reader by sharing your inner dialogue like you would say if there would be on time or late what they might be wearing and then I felt that was your way of like welcoming me into the conversation like okay get ready for this and this you mentioned for the 33 artists the importance of reading them in order and the nuances that you see can you describe how you catalog people and the timing that it happens in like is it often while you’re talking to people you realize oh this would link with this artist I met last week or this collector that I met last year do you have any system you mentioned you love numbers so well I mean I you know I did a hundred interviews before I decided what the structure of the book would be and what the themes would be and who would even be in the book and over researching as part of my method and his only through over researching that I can set up the contrast and the parallels and some of the subtleties and so I mean going back to a previous question that is part of the explanation as to who’s in the book in the end you know johani owed it born who’s a kind of legend in South America but not so well-known here you know he he wasn’t on in summer 2009 when I came up with the idea for the book I didn’t eat I actually didn’t even know who’d it born was at that time but then I was invited to Chile and and Buenos aw days and in various Latin American countries to speak about the Spanish edition of seven days in the art world made it a slightly longer trip did studio visits and found his work in him so compelling that I thought oh I want to include him somehow and then the issue of the disappeared came up in all and became a link between him and I way way because he came of age

at a time when Pinochet was in power there were many artists amongst the disappeared and one of the important people to him who disappeared was his psychotherapist and this actually haunted his work for decades without him quite realizing so you know we’re in Chile and talking about this kind of thing in relationship to his work and how it affected his artists identity because his solution was to make airmail paintings to ship out of the country because he was living in a place without freedom of speech and and I was interested in comparing like a right-wing dictatorship like Pinochet to a dictatorship oh the people in China and how I would ways strategies around that which are completely different but you know over the you know one of the plot lines of Act one is is aiwei ways incarceration because we meet him in Shanghai at a conference then I do a one-on-one interview with him on the occasion of his show at the Turbine Hall in at in London at London’s Tate Modern his sunflower you know the on the occasion of the opening of a sunflower seeds show which i think is one of his masterpieces and I arranged to go see him in Beijing booked my tickets and everything he gets put in prison just before I arrived so I end up having tea with his wife flute Ching which you know when I first heard he was in prison not only was I distressed he was in prison but I was like what’s that gonna do for my book you know selfishly you know ah but the and then you know strangely also so you know aloo Ching is so generous and intelligent and it’s so interesting to look at the situation through her eyes as an ex artist or an artist who’s subordinated her career to that of her husband which is very usual actually in the art world so you know his disappearance you know I wanted to put johani au in I wasn’t sure where jet born would go it seemed like you know the timing was right and it went bang bang I put the scenes right next to each other you know so those kinds of things you know or my my PhD supervisor always told me that an ethnographer had a great eye for detail and that and I’m often like you know describing people’s nonverbal behavior and clothing and things like that in their environment and quite a bit of detail because for me that’s also see illogical data and also the people’s nonverbal behavior underlines what they’re saying undermines or underlines what they’re saying and things like that and and I think you know a little a little bit of plot helps pull the reader along yeah okay last a student is there one more I think we need to call us yep I’m going to invite you back a Sarah and Vince thank you this has been a wonderful before you before you leave I want to remind you that on December 9 is the next discussion for which sign up and Alex broader from Sotheby’s Sarah Watson from strew smoger and Rachel blackboard burn formerly the director the Kemper Museum will be here as our discussants and thank you you