Suite (212)

Suite (212) was a monthly radio programme, broadcast on London community station Resonance 104.4fm, and podcast that looked at the arts in their social, cultural, political and historical contexts, which I founded in July 2017 and which finished in December 2021. Named after a film by Korean-American video artist Nam June Paik and inspired by intellectuals who engaged with popular culture and (in some cases) worked in broadcast media, such as John Berger, Mark Fisher, Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams, it aimed to fill both the gaps left in mainstream broadcast arts coverage by the end of The South Bank Show and other long-form programming, and the relative lack of cultural coverage in the UK’s left-wing podcasting scene.

Funded by a grant from the Lipman-Miliband Trust for socialist education projects and by Patreon subscribers, Suite (212) ran for four series on Resonance, with episodes hosted by myself, Tom Overton and Lara Alonso Corona. The archive is here, and I was interviewed by New Socialist and Tank about the project.

Interviewees included former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn; writers Sheila Heti, Chris Kraus and McKenzie Wark; filmmakers Mike Dibb, Bill Morrison, Avi Mograbi and Deimantas Narkevičius; musician Brian Eno; comedian Mark Thomas; artists Oreet Ashery, Jasmina Cibic, Jeremy Deller, Yevgeniy Fiks, Nada Prlja and Tai Shani; and photographer Markéta Luskačová. Other guests included artists Larry Achiampong and Laura Grace Ford; authors Chloe Aridjis, Daniela Cascella, Jonathan Coe, Owen Hatherley, Alex Kovacs and Sarah Schulman; critics Esther Leslie and David Stubbs; and filmmaker Chiara Ambrosio.

Our retrospectives covered publisher John Calder, filmmakers Jonas Mekas, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ousmane Sembène and Peter Watkins, authors Leonora Carrington and George Orwell, musician Mark E. Smith and others; we looked at the relationship between art and culture after World War I in the UK, France and Germany, as well as after the Russian revolution, the Spanish Civil War and the uprisings of May 1968. We also explored at racism in the arts; the representation of the Holocaust in documentary film; art, censorship and resistance in Erdoğan’s Turkey, and the arts since the financial crisis in Greece; art and gentrification; cultural democracy; the politics of landscape writing; theatre in Lukashenko’s Belarus; an exhibition about the Calais ‘jungle’; the impact of Covid-19 on the arts; the idea of the ‘state of the nation’ novel; and more.

I wrote about the difficulties in funding the programme for Industria’s ‘Structurally F-cked’ report into pay and treatment of artists by publicly funded institutions here.