Subtext & Discourse | Art World Podcast

The art world and associated market are famously opaque and can at times be exclusive. Berlin based gallery director and educator Michael Dooney speaks with artists, curators and other professionals who share their personal experiences of this unique field. If you have ever felt unsure about walking into a gallery, wish to understand more about creativity or better understand how this complex industry works, then tune in every second Monday to hear the insightful conversations with these inspiring individuals.

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Tuesday Mar 29, 2022

Saul Robbins is interested in the ways people interact within their surroundings and the psychological dynamics of intimacy. His photographs are motivated by observations of human behaviour and personal experience, especially those related to loss, unity, failure, and the latent potential residing in traditional photographic materials and personal history. Robbins is best known for “Initial Intake”, which examines the empty chairs of Manhattan-based psychotherapy professionals from their clients’ perspective; “How Can I Help? – An Artful Dialogue”, a pop-up office into which he invites strangers to speak with him about anything they wish for free and in complete confidence. Robbins is also the father of a young boy and since 2012 has created several series of abstract “photographic drawings” and sculptures made from physically altered chromogenic paper and chemistry in response to his desire and struggles to start a family, including: “Where’s My Happy Ending?;” “Chemical Peels;” “Fertile Gestures;” and a new series of traditional photographs.
Exhibitions include The Bolinas Museum, Blue Sky Gallery, Busters, Deutsche Haus at NYU, chashama (Windows Installation), Griffin Museum, Humble Arts, ICP, KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO, Lilac Arts, MASQUELIBROS Artist Book Fair, Lilac Arts, Massachusetts General Hospital, MICA, Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, New Orleans Photo Alliance, Ost Gallery, Moscow, Pelican Bomb, Portland Art Museum, The Educational Alliance, Philoctetes Center, Skirball Center, Mark Woolley Gallery, White Gallery (PSU), and others. His photographs have been published in Aufbau, Berlin Tagesspiegel, CPW Quarterly, D - La Repubblica, Dummy, More, The New York Times, Real Simple, TAM, and Wired, among others.
Grants and awards include The Covenant Foundation Ignition Grant, Sony World Photography Awards (Finalist), U.S. Embassy, Tblisi, GE, AJPA Rockower, Gunk Foundation, and New York Foundation for the Arts. Curatorial projects include Intervening Histories, OFF_Festival, Bratislava (2015), Projecting Freedom: Cinematic Interpretations of the Haggadah (2010), Regarding Intimacy (2007), and No Live Girls, Peep Show 28 (2002). Robbins was awarded a NICA Stipendium from Berlin's Hoch Schule der Kunste in 1998, and received his MFA from Hunter College (CUNY) in 1999, where he studied with Roy DeCarava, Mark Feldstein, Juan Sanchez, and Thomas Weaver. He teaches photography in New York City and has been leading Master Workshops internationally, helping photographers and artists to incorporate communication and professional development strategies into their creative practice.
Interview with Saul Robbins recorded by Michael Dooney on 14. May 2021 between Berlin and New York via Squadcast.
Portrait photo by Matthew J. Bernuca
Full episode transcript (online soon)
Saul Robbins

Tuesday Nov 02, 2021

Jessica Backhaus was born in Cuxhaven, Germany in 1970 and grew up in an artistic family. At the age of sixteen, she moved to Paris, where she later studied photography and visual communications. Here she met Gisele Freund in 1992, who became her mentor. In 1995 her passion for photography drew her to New York, where she assisted photographers, pursued her own projects and lived until 2009.
Jessica Backhaus is regarded as one of the most distinguished voices in contemporary photography in Germany today. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, MARTa Herford and the Kunsthalle Erfurt. To date, she has ten publications to her name; Jesus and the Cherries, 2005, What Still Remains, 2008, One Day in November, 2008, I Wanted to See the World, 2010, One day – 10 photographers, 2010, Once, still and forever, 2012, Six degrees of freedom, 2015, A TRILOGY, 2017, Far away but close, 2019 and Cut Outs, 2021. All books are published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg except Far away but close that was published by Another Place Press, Scotland.Her work is also featured in the book: Women Photographers by Boris Friedewald (Prestel Verlag 2014 and 2018).
Her photographs are in many prominent art collections including Taunus Sparkasse, Germany, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany, ING Art Collection, Belgium, Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA and the Margulies Collection, Miami, USA.
Jessica Backhaus is represented by Robert Morat Galerie in Berlin, Galerie Anja Knoess in Cologne, Petra Becker/ International Art Bridge in Meggen, Robert Klein Gallery in Boston, Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia, MiCamera Gallery in Milan, Carlos Carvalho ARTE CONTEMPORÂNEA in Lisbon and Wouter van Leeuwen Gallery in Amsterdam.
Interview with Jessica Backhaus recorded by Michael Dooney on 21. May 2021 in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.
Full episode transcript (online soon)
Jessica Backhaus
Cut Outs
Photo book from Kehrer Verlag
The Eye Sees, Arles with Robert Morat
PHOTO LONDON with Robert Morat
PHOTO BASEL with Robert Morat
PARIS PHOTOParis Photo with Robert Morat
Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards
Elles x Paris Photo 2021 curated by Nathalie Herschdorfer

Saturday Sep 11, 2021

Valerie von Meiss is the founder of The Curve a private project space and nomadic gallery in Berlin which has a focus on contemporary collage.
the Curve is a private art space and nomadic gallery exclusively dedicated to the exhibition and promotion of contemporary collage art. Young emerging as well as established artists are given a platform here. Founded 2017 in the hallway of a private apartment in Berlin Mitte, the Curve regularly takes over pop-up spaces and believes in collaborations beyond the traditional gallery landscape.
Interview with Valerie von Meiss recorded by Michael Dooney on 11. June 2021 at The Curve, Berlin.
Full episode transcript (online soon)
The CurveOfficial: (scroll down for newsletter subscription)
Berlin Views:
The Age of CollageBook:
Virtual Tour:
Denis Busch (co-editor & co-curator):
Artist Justine Laeufer (solo show at POSITIONS Berlin in September 2021): about Justine's work and process:
Artist Anna Bu Kliewer:
Allure [Fr. style, elegance] Photographs from the Susanne von Meiss Collection:
POSITIONS Berlin Art Fair:

Thursday Jun 24, 2021

Elena Feijoo is the founder and managing director of the Berlin based art gallery Exgirlfriend EGF UG & the non-profit art studio building/art service provider Human Esthetic Resources HER gUG.
Exgirlfriend is a contemporary art gallery showcasing experimental works from emerging artists, and HER is a studio complex and non-profit art service provider. Elena Feijoo is the majority shareholder of both businesses and currently manages all aspects of their daily operations.
Interview with Elena Feijoo recorded by Michael Dooney on 18. May 2021 in Friedrichshain, Berlin.
Full episode transcript (online soon)
Current exhibition: WETLANDS by Marius Presterud
Human Esthetic Resources HER
Florida Man...
Google Image search results...
Floria Man (2015 documentary)
The Florida Project by Sean Baker (2017 film)
#1 Father Daughter
HEAVEN Gallery, Chicago
BLM - Black Lives Matter (official website)
Official Website
Vera Kox
Christopher Meerdo
Channeling, 2019 by Christopher Meerdo (video work presented at the fair

Thursday Jun 17, 2021

Gallerist Pierre-André Podbielski, the founder of Podbielski Contemporary, describes himself a citizen of the world.
Of Polish and German descent (father was Prussian raised in Berlin, mother Polish raised in Vienna), born in Geneva and bearing an Australian passport, he is fluent in English, French, German and Italian.
A qualified architect (Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris), a passionate collector, he has become an art dealer and an active partner of Galleria Rubin from 2001 to 2009 - his main area of expertise was abstract painting, photography and site specific commissions.
His participation in numerous fairs (Art Cologne, Artefiera Bologna, Miart, Preview Berlin, Scope Miami) has allowed him to establish a qualified network of contacts among artists, galleries, curators and collectors. In order to best consolidate such acquired experience and face new challenges, he has launched Podbielski Contemporary in Summer 2011 in Berlin.
Interview with Pierre-André Podbielski recorded by Michael Dooney on 9. May 2021 between Berlin and Milan via Squadcast.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
THE PHAIR, Turin. 18th to 20th June 2021
Galleria Rubin Milano
Artists mentioned:
Alfredo Jaar
Shadi Ghadirian
Hrair Sarkissian
Francesco Jodice
Loredana Nemes
Air Berlin
Exhibitions mentioned:
The Wall
Pleasure Garden (Nude Photography)
ORE SOSPESE. Un diario italiano (An Italian Diary)
Not Only History, But Our Memories (Experimental Photography exhibition)
Art fairs participated in:
MIA, Milan Image Art Fair
THE PHAIR, Photo Art Fair, Turin
UNSEEN Amsterdam
Francesco Fabbri Onlus Foundation
CAMERA - Centro Italiano per la Fotografia 

Monday Jan 11, 2021

Anne Schwanz co-founded OFFICE IMPART together with Johanna Neuschäffer in 2018. She studied art and art history at Caspar David Friedrich Institute, Greifswald University and after graduating in 2004 worked at Galerie EIGEN + ART until 2018.
OFFICE IMPART is a gallery, but one that hardly corresponds to the standard definition of a gallery. One of the many impacts of the digital age that is key to the presentation of art is a new understanding of space as a multidimensional structure that can be linked in all directions. (read more)
Interview with Anne Schwanz recorded by Michael Dooney on 23. November 2020 at OFFICE IMPART Berlin.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Official -
Instagram -
YouTube -
Anne Schwanz (Instagram) -
Come Closer Exhibition -
BerlinViews -
Good To Talk -

Thursday Dec 17, 2020

Felix Hoffmann, has been the chief curator of the C/O Berlin Foundation since 2005. He studied art history and cultural studies in Vienna and Berlin and worked at the Photo Museum in Munich, the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden and the Museum Folkwang in Essen.
C/O Berlin is a charitable foundation that presents a cultural program with an international standing. The exhibition venue for photography and visual media shows works by renowned artists, promotes emerging talents and accompanies children, teenagers and adults on their journeys of discovery through our visual culture.
Interview with Felix Hoffmann recorded by Michael Dooney on 10. November 2020 at C/O Berlin.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Felix Hoffmann (instagram)
C/O BerlinOfficial Website
C/O Berlin Talent Award
Anna Ehrenstein (official website)
George Nebieridze (official website)
Exhibition: No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989 - Today (video)
Exhibition: Das Letzte Bild Fotografie und Tod (video)

Monday Nov 23, 2020

Nina Ross is a Melbourne based artist working predominantly with video, performance and photography. Her research led practice draws on individual experiences to interrogate the use of visual and textual language within political and personal spheres. Using the body, her work speaks to current global issues, while giving a voice to personal narratives and concerns. Beyond her personal work, Nina engages in various collaborative practices including co-founding Artists’ Committee (2017) and Artists’ Subcommittee (2018). 
In 2013 Nina received a Master of Fine Art (Research) with first class honours from Monash University in Melbourne, supervised by Peta Clancy. Nina’s thesis received the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Master’s Thesis Excellence Award. Previous to this Nina obtained a BA (Fine Art Photography) Honours in 2006 and a BA (Media Arts) in 2004 from RMIT University.
Nina has lectured sessionally in photography, art theory, conceptual development and professional practice at various universities including Photography Studies College and RMIT University (School of Media and Communication) in Melbourne.
Since 2014 Nina has worked with a group of Melbourne based artists called Art/Parents. Together they explore the experiences of artists who are also parents.
Interview with Nina Ross recorded by Michael Dooney on 30. August 2020 with between Berlin, Germany and Melbourne, Australia.
Portrait photo by Hannah Reich
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Nina RossOfficial Website
Centre for Everything, artists residency
Artists Committee
Artists protesting Wilson Security Artists Protest Australian Museum’s Deal with Security Firm that Allegedly Abused Asylum-Seekers
Australian Art Museum Drops Security Firm Accused of Abuse at Detention Centers
Artists ParentsJessie Scott
Lizzy Sampson
Imagining a Future Collective
Artists Union

Friday Nov 13, 2020

Maya Anner is a curator working in Tel-Aviv, and currently serves as the Chief Curator of PHOTO IS:RAEL, the International Photography Festival in Tel-Aviv. She was the Arts Manager at the British Council Tel-Aviv, the curator and art director at ArtLink and has worked at the Photography department at the MoMA and at Tel-Aviv Museum of Art.
Maya holds an MA in Art History and a Diploma in Curatorial and Museum Studies from the Tel-Aviv University. Maya serves as a juror in various awards and festivals, recent ones include Photo Espana, Odesa Photo Days, Photo Lucida and Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair.
Interview with Maya Anner recorded by Michael Dooney on 7. November 2020 with between Berlin, Germany and Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Portrait photo by Daniel Tchetchik
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Maya Anner (instagram)
PHOTO IS:RAELOfficial Website
PHOTO IS:RAEL FestivalOfficial Website
Talks and events

Tuesday Oct 06, 2020

The group exhibition Zero Waste showcases international positions in contemporary art that point out the urgency to save resources, consume less, and live more sustainably. In diverse installations, videos, sculptural works, and photographs the artists investigate the global consequences of plastic packaging, tire abrasion, toxic chemicals, and the overproduction of consumer goods. Zero Waste will be realised by the German Environment Agency in cooperation with the MdbK and curated by Hannah Beck-Mannagetta and Lena Fließbach.
The exhibition catalogue, published by the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig (MdbK) and the German Environment Agency, contains essays by Hannah Beck-Mannagetta and Lena Fließbach, Sven Bergmann and Yusif Idies, Martin Ittershagen and Fotini Mavromati such as Minimal Mimi. The catalogue (130 pages, colour pictures) is available now from the museums pay desk at the price of 12 € and online from Do You Read Me. 100% of the proceeds from the catalogue will go to the tree-planting project by artist Andreas Greiner, with the aim of offsetting the CO2 footprint in the exhibition. The first field maple is planted in January, 2020 in Gohlis. A sponsorship of the "Aktion Baumstarke Stadt" of the city of Leipzig costs 250 € per tree.
Interviews for ZERO WASTE with Lena Fließbach & Hannah Beck-Mannagetta, Erik Sturm, Wolf von Kries, Jeanette Stoschek, and Bianca Kennedy & The Swan Collective recorded by Michael Dooney on 24. June 2020 at the Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig Germany.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
ZERO WASTEOfficial Website, MdbK
Exhibition Catalogue
Lena FließbachOfficial Website
Hannah Beck-MannagettaOfficial Website
Erik SturmOfficial Website
Wolf von KriesOfficial Website
Jeanette Stoschek, director Museum der bildenden Künste, LeißzigOfficial Website, MdbK
Instagram, MdbK
Twitter, MdbK
Bianca KennedyOfficial Website
The Swan CollectiveOfficial Website

Tuesday Sep 22, 2020

Ángel Luis González is the director of PhotoIreland, an independent organisation dedicated to stimulating a critical dialogue around Photography in Ireland and to internationally promoting the work of Irish-based artists. He won the David Manley Entrepreneur Award in 2011 for the PhotoIreland Festival project. In 2011, he launched ‘The Library Project’, a public resource library of photobooks, holding in excess of 3000 items from more than 300 publishers worldwide.
The Library Project also gives name to Ireland’s Art Bookshop, a unique space in Dublin’s city centre, offering the photobook collection, an eclectic bookshop, and a productive gallery programme. He has been a portfolio reviewer at events such as Les Rencontres d’Arles, Format Derby, PhotoEspaña, and The Triennial of Photography Hamburg. He is responsible for books such as Martin Parr’s Best Books of the Decade, New Irish Works, and the ongoing TLP Editions. He contributed to Landskrona Foto 2016, focused on Photography in Ireland, and he is an invited lecturer at university programmes, such as the Fine Art Photography Master at IED Madrid.
In 2019, he launched the public-facing project entitled ‘The Museum of Contemporary Photography of Ireland’ with its first instalment running 1-31 July as a 2000 m2 exhibition space, enquiring about Museums and Photography. The project will run every year during July as part of PhotoIreland Festival, until it becomes a fully fledged museum space. More recently, he developed OVER Journal, a new critical journal of Photography and Visual Culture for the 21st century, which was launched during PhotoIreland Festival 2020.
Interview with Ángel Luis González recorded by Michael Dooney on 31. July 2020 with between Berlin, Germany and Dublin, Ireland.
Portrait photo by Matthew Thompson
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
PhotoIrelandOfficial Website
Open calls, awards, and other opportunities
PhotoIreland FestivalOfficial Website
PhotoIreland 2020 ON XFF
OVER JournalOfficial Website
Open calls and submissions
The Library Project for Visual Culture & Critical ThinkingOfficial Website

Monday Sep 07, 2020

Dr. Harriet Roth studied Medieval History, Modern History, and Art History. She obtained her doctorate in art history in 1996 with a thesis on the Origins of Museums in the 16th Century under the supervision of Horst Bredekamp, at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her various publications deal with museum history and the architecture of Richard Neutra. Since 2019 Harriet has been the curator of the Wochenende der Moderne project for the Bezirksamt Steglitz-Zehlendorf of Berlin, Office for Further Education and Culture.
Interview with Dr. Harriet Roth recorded by Michael Dooney on 10. June 2020 at Onkel-Tom-Straße 87, 14169 Berlin, Germany.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Wochenende der Moderne (Weekend of Modernism)Press release on
Tickets via eventbrite
Wochenende der Moderne (Bezirksamt Steglitz-Zehlendorf)

Thursday Aug 27, 2020

Dorothee Bienert is the director of Galerie im Körnerpark and Galerie im Saalbau, Berlin Neukölln. Together with Kati Kivinen, director of Museum for Contemporary Art Kiasma Helsinki, Dorothee curated the exhibition Fragile Times. Supported by the Finnland-Institut Deutschland and hosted by the Galerie im Körnerpark, this timely exhibition opened at the beginning of July and will continue until the 18th of October 2020. 
Climate change, environmental pollution and mass extinction are just some of the issues causing us anxiety. But even with the realisation that human activity is destroying the very basis of life on our planet, very few people are making lasting changes to their behaviour.  
Galerie im Körnerpark is one of over 30 municipal galleries throughout Berlin and is part of the Kommunale Galerien Berlin network.  This years KGB Kunstwoche (art week) will take place from Friday 28. August until Sunday 6. September 2020.
The Fragile Times exhibition is supported by the Finnish Institute in Germany.
Interview with Dorothee Bienert recorded by Michael Dooney on 18. August 2020 at the Café im Körnerpark, Berlin Neukölln.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Finnland-Institut in DeutschlandOfficial Website
Fragile Times
Galerie im KörnerparkOfficial Website
Galerie im SaalbalOfficial Website
Kommunale Galerien BerlinOfficial Website
KGB-Kunstwoche 28.8 - 6.9.2020

Monday Aug 17, 2020

Renowned for inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely crafted festivals and arts events, Fiona Sweet is an influential and highly sought after speaker, industry judge in Australia and internationally including at Les Rencontres De La Photographie, France; Fotofestiwal, Poland; and Triennial of Photography Hamburg, Germany.
Prior to her appointment at Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Sweet was the founding Director of Sweet Creative, a leading design agency in Melbourne receiving prestigious awards from the Australian Graphic Design Association and the Victorian Government. Sweet co-founded Melbourne’s Acland Street Projection Festival and has served on the boards of the Melbourne Fringe, Chamber Made Opera, Shir Madness and Australian Graphic Design Association. She currently sits on the Industry Advisory Group for LCI Melbourne, and the Advisory Committee for the Discipline of Photography at RMIT. In 2018 Sweet was awarded an Ian Potter Development Grant assisting her research concerning international art festival best practice.
Interview with Fiona Sweet recorded by Michael Dooney on 2. June 2020 via Squadcast between Berlin and Melbourne. Portrait by Chippy Rivera.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Ballarat International Foto BiennaleOfficial Website
Mass Isolation ProjectOfficial Website Australia
Instagram Australia
Instagram UK / Format Festival
Instagram Ireland
Instagram Finland

Monday Aug 03, 2020

Catherine Evans is a Berlin-based Australian artist who works across photography, sculpture and installation. Her work focuses on geologic time and where this intersects with our own human timescales: as found in our bodies, their materiality and our lived-histories through colonialism and archaeology. Initially trained in science, and then photography, her work is characterised by a material intimacy that subverts the utility of everyday materials such as rocks, carpet and sticky tape to give unexpected shifts in our perception of light, weight and balance.
After completing her studies at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, she was recipient of a VCA Graduate Mentorship (2013) and Georges Mora Fellowship (2017). She has exhibited widely, most recently her work "Standing Stone" won first prize in the 2020 Neuköllner Kunstpreis, Berlin.
Interview with Catherine Evans recorded by Michael Dooney on 15. May 2020 in Neukölln, Berlin.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
Catherine Evans official website
Official Website
Interiors to Being Festival - PICTURE BERLIN 10th Anniversary
Melanie Irwin
Susan Jakobs
Bundoora Homestead Art Centre
Interview in Berlin Art Link
DIEresidenz - artists residency in France by Conny Becker
LOST ROCKSOfficial Website
48H Neukölln

Monday Jul 20, 2020

April Gertler is an American artist who has been living and working in Berlin since 2005. She studied at University California, Berkeley (BA, Social Science Interdisciplinary Studies - Hons), California College of the Arts (BFA - Photography) and Bard College (MFA - Photography). April did an exchange semester at the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main, which is what initially brought her to Germany. After finishing her MFA, she returned to Frankfurt and subsequently moved to Berlin.
April's work is preoccupied with the idea of the communal experience of a moment as an access point. That access point has taken a variety of forms including lecture performance with the sharing of baked goods, one night bars and exhibitions in additional to collaborative durational walks.
She has exhibited and taught internationally. In 2009, April started a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange art program PICTURE BERLIN for international artists. The program has developed into multiple programs each year. Last year (2019) marked 10 years of the program and April and her team were awarded a significant Hauptstadtkulturfond from the Ministry of Culture for the project INTERIORS TO BEING, a month long festival of performance, exhibitions, walks and discussions which celebrated the alumni and participating artists from PICTURE BERLIN over the years.
Since the start of PICTURE BERLIN, April has been simultaneously working on her own practice which has included other performative and curatorial projects such as Sonntag and TAKE THE CAKE - a hybrid baking show and lecture performance. In the Fall of 2020 April will be opening a new project space in Neukölln called WIRWIR, with Adrian Schiesser.
April's most recent projects include the Sonntag Book, an overview of Sonntag - a collaborative project she has been doing with Adrian Schiesser which invites an artist to show their work in a private apartment for a Sunday afternoon presentation. The artist's favourite cake is also served during the matinee exhibition. April and Adrian have been doing the project since 2012. In addition, she recently finished a new episode of TAKE THE CAKE titled, APPELTAART which she performed in Amsterdam.
April has been teaching Analog Photography as an Adjunct Professor at Bard College Berlin in Berlin, Germany since Spring 2016.
Interview with April Gertler recorded by Michael Dooney on 29. May 2020 in Mitte, Berlin.
Full Episode Transcript (online soon)
April Gertler official website
Official Website
Interiors to Being Festival - PICTURE BERLIN 10th Anniversary
Field Guide Berlin
California College of the Arts
Larry Sultan
Jim Goldberg
Official Website
The Green Box

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