In Episode 25 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the world-renowned writer and critic, OLIVIA LAING on Chantal Joffe, Sarah Lucas, and Ana Mendieta!
[This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]
And WOW. Was it an honour to interview Olivia: one of the greatest writers working today and the author of some of my favourite books: To The River, The Trip to Echo Spring, Crudo, and The Lonely City, which explores artists’ loneliness in New York City – the most powerful book I have ever read (http://olivialaing.co.uk/lonely-city).
Just last month she published an outstanding – and very timely – collection of essays titled Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, which features in-depth essays about artists’ lives, from Derek Jarman to Georgia O’Keeffe, love letters to the likes of David Bowie, plus her encounters and friendships with Chantal Joffe and Sarah Lucas!
SO, in this episode – a little different to previous ones – we talk to Olivia about her top three female artists, and wow did she speak eloquently, passionately, enthusiastically, and just brilliantly about these PIONEERING artists.
We deep dive into her friendship with painter Chantal Joffe, whom Olivia has sat for on multiple occasions, and who she has also written about sitting for too! (Check out one of her essays here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/12/chantal-joffe-paints-olivia-laing-mutual-portraits-words-and-paint) When asked about how Chantal captures people she says: "it's more that she sees a changing self. Every painting she does. It's very Virginia Woolf, the sense of somebody being so fluid through time in history, somebody moving so sinuously into different selves."
Then we speak about the GENIUS who is Sarah Lucas. We discuss the immediacy of her work; how her sculptures make us feel and give precedent to how we inhabit our bodies; their POWER, humour, and comments on society.
Finally we end with the great Ana Mendieta. One of the most important artists of the 20th century, Mendieta was known for exploring the body and identity through her performative and photographic works, that confront us directly as viewers: furiously, immediately, powerfully.
It was a complete honour to speak with Olivia Laing, one of the greatest writers living right now.
Further reading: http://olivialaing.co.uk/home
I hope you enjoy the episode!
This episode is sponsored by Alighieri
Use the code: TGWA for 10% off!
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield