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The Conversation Art Podcast

A podcast that goes behind the scenes and between the lines of the contemporary art worlds, through conversations with artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.
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Now displaying: February, 2024
Feb 24, 2024

This episode features the 1st half of the full episode. To get the full version, please visit: Patreon.com/theconversationpod    The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon

Recovering art worker and author of the novel Thieves, Valerie Werder talks about:

Her entrance into the art world via her demanding position at a fancy gallery in her attempt, as a newbie, to get access and proximity to the art world;  her ability to conform and comply under pressure (in the gallery environment), and the what the flip side of that looks like; what the coercion, that came thru various forms of care and the engendering of a ‘family’ dynamic at the gallery, looked like and how it played out, including through fancy paid meals and credit for fancy clothes so she could look and act the part; how working at a gallery gave her a completely different relationship to language, including the quick turnaround she had to produce, becoming a ‘language producing machine’ in the process; the craft of writing a gallery press release, and how she ultimately became, upon writing her novel, the ‘commodity’ herself that she in turn needed to sell.

In the 2nd half of the episode, Valerie talks about: her creative workarounds to promote her book, including using two very different kinds of publicists, and how throughout her professional career she’s been aware of and pushed against the given economic constraints, and how she believes it’s important to be explicit and unashamed about everything from her day jobs to the creation of her (writing) brand; the difference between the mythologizing/branding of artists back in the days of a much smaller (yet cut-throat) New York art world (of Donald Judd, Robert Smithson and Walter De Maria et al.) and the more diffuse, digital world of today, and how in her book she wanted to explore the legacy and imprint of the peripheral art world figure ‘Valerie’ the character who herself was invisible but whose writing, through catalogues and press releases, was/is all over the art world, and in the process the real Valerie the writer becomes a visible figure, a brand herself; the strange relationship she had with her former gallerist boss, whom she became the voice for in press releases and personal emails and even interviews, and how she studied her and had the writings of her voice vetted by the gallerist herself, for which she was valued highly for absolutely being ‘her voice;’ how she wrote her book on an ‘unpaid sabbatical’ from her job at the gallery, in a friend’s cabin in Tennessee, and the complicated circumstances in which she quick her job upon returning from that ‘sabbatical,’ which she told the gallery was an artist residency; her doubts about whether her gallerist employer read her book (Thieves); the actual front desk worker (aka gallerina) protocol employed at the gallery where she worked, as far as how to treat different people who came into the gallery, whether they were VIPs who should be greeted by name (through the gallerina memorizing the faces of those collectors) or lowly artists/nobodies who could be ignored; her experience getting a once-over from a wealthy collector at the gallery, and giving that once-over right back to him; Frank Stella and his provocative artwork titling, and how it somehow wasn’t Valerie’s job to really do research about his work, despite the gallery selling it.

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