Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.
I’m sure you’ve heard it: For the past few months, the U.S. news media has been following the saga of pop star Britney Spears and the unusual conservatorship arrangement that prevents her from controlling her own finances or life decisions, put in place more than a decade ago after a very public breakdown. In June, Spears spoke out for the first time in court, asking for the conservatorship to be terminated. On the eve of this episode’s release, in fact, Britney is stronger than yesterday… yes, her father Jamie has agreed to step down from controlling his pop star daughter, after months of public pressure.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with art?
It turns out that long before the #FreeBritney movement had people poring over her Instagram for clues, or the New York Times documentary Framing Britney revisited what her story said about the media and misogyny, she’s been a surprisingly potent symbol for artists—in fact, maybe more than any other recent pop star. They’ve used her image to talk about sexism, about fame, about consumerism, and about the dark side of the 2000s.
Why Britney in particular? And does today’s reckoning with the recent past change the way that pop art takes on pop music? In a recent essay for Artnet News, LA-based art journalist Janelle Zara looked at artists’ fascination with Britney Spears, asking these questions and a lot more. This week, Zara joins senior writer Sarah Cascone to discuss the cult of Britney, and how she has become an unwitting inspiration to international artists.
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