Name: Alexandra Freedman
Nicknames: Alex, Freedman, Sexy Lexy, Sasha, The Radical Munchkin
Originated From: West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution: George Washington
Major: Women’s Studies & History
Job Before Booth: Owner & Founder of Freedman Fitzpatrick and Paramount Ranch, Arts Journalist, PhD Track Student – Harvard University African & African American Studies
Summer Internship: Research Consultant – Microsoft, AI & Cloud Engineering Group in Banking and Supply Chain
okay…now for the good stuff:
Prior To Booth
Growing up in West Hollywood during the AIDS crisis taught me that life is short, precious, and ought to be fabulous.
I’ve never conformed to the tracks that I was supposed to. I dropped out of high school at 15 and wrote two books. I made a deal with my grandmother, who has always been a majestic rebel, to do a year in LA to prove I was ready for college. 9/11 happened shortly thereafter, so I dived into politics and moved to DC to attend George Washington.
In college, I was really active in politics and hungry for perspectives. I was the VP and President of the Progressive Student Union and a co-founder of Students Against the War in Iraq. The morning the US bombed Iraq, I was arrested for chaining myself to 13 other people and shutting down the metro DC area for a few hours. I wrote my thesis on the Belizean banana industry, looking at women’s labor and trade deals, going so far as to work the line on a farm and was an elections observer for the 2004 El Salvadoran Presidential election.
I graduated at 19 and traveled as a freelance journalist, but I knew that I wanted to go back into academia. I went to Harvard to better understand the historical power dynamics between colonial and post-colonial nations and voices. But, three days into the semester my Mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. Two and a half months later I had to make what remains the hardest decision of my life – pulling the chord.
That experience sent me into a tail-spin. Naturally my reaction was to pursue research. I tried volunteering with the UN in Kenya, but clearance never came. So instead, I met three art students at a bar in Dar Es Salaam and hitchhiked with them across East Africa.
Once back at Harvard, I shifted to comparative literature and visual culture and found my calling in art. I left and moved to NYC, into a windowless warehouse in Williamsburg between a nightclub and experimental sound musician’s studio. I worked for an art publishing company in Chelsea in the Editorial Department. And then the 2008 crash hit and New York felt decimated. I headed down to South America, traveling through Chile, Argentina and Brazil to gather my thoughts. I landed in Berlin.
I spoke about five words of German, so I enrolled in a German language class. And one night, early on, I went to a concert with a classmate and met a group of people who changed my life. I spent the next three years traveling the world as an art writer and curating exhibitions. While in Berlin I met Robbie, my business partner-to-be in Freedman Fitzpatrick. The second time we ever hung out he asked me if I wanted to start a gallery with him. I told him he was insane – I was not one for commercial endeavors. Little did I know.
Two years later we opened Freedman Fitzpatrick in 2013. I hadn’t lived in LA in almost a decade, but I had a hunch that LA was on the precipice of becoming an art world epicenter. We opened Freedman Fitzpatrick with the goal to bring European artists to LA. Artists who weren’t really known in the US, at different levels of their career. Some emerging, some established. Yet LA was still too inward looking for our program. The answer came in Paramount Ranch.
We didn’t like the existing art fairs in LA. So with a little bit of cash and a lotta hustle we built our own.
Paramount Ranch was held in an old west film set in the mountains in Malibu – you probably know it from HBO’s WestWorld. We teamed up with two artists and convinced our artist and gallerist friends from Europe, Asia, and across the US to come. Our first iteration had 34 exhibitors. We didn’t expect collectors to show up, we did it for fun – for the sake of art. But when we got to the site at 8:30 opening morning, a caravan of top tier art collectors were already there looking for the VIP table. It ended up being a runway sensation.
We hosted three iterations of Paramount Ranch, and at the same time Robbie and I lived and breathed Freedman Fitzpatrick, creating a residency program in the downstairs of our house in LA. We funded artists’ production, enabling them to work at a level that they hadn’t previously had access to. We took their work to art fairs and did historic shows in our gallery. Several works from those exhibitions are now in major museum collections. It was about building a beautiful life and a community. As the gallery expanded and grew, we opened a branch in Paris.
But as the swings of market speculation grew stronger, it was clear to me that the gallery business model at-large was due for a massive disruption. It forced me to ask myself a deeply difficult question: Had my relationship to art become about sustaining a system or about a vision? Did I want to further invest and attempt to turn the gallery into a blue-chip enterprise, or was I ready for a new adventure? I chose the latter.
My goodbye to Freedman Fitzpatrick was a video show that reframed the infamous Sturtevant’s video works. Sturtevant was a groundbreaking artist who won a Gold Lion in Venice and had a major retrospective at MoMA in New York. It was an incredible privilege to be given so much freedom by her Estate. The show was 17 videos over 24 monitors into an installation space and it blew people’s fucking minds. The exhibition opened on September 5th – three days later I started Booth.
If You Didn’t Have To Work What Would You Do:
Collect art, raise Frenchies in Pampas (a mountain range in South America), and invest in women led ventures, data ethics initiatives, and internet 3.0 technologies.
Do You Think That Aliens Exist?
Yes, I just don’t think they look like us
Currently Reading / Listening to:
Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham
The Twenty-Six Words that Created the Internet by Jeff Kosseff
“Shopping” by Eve Babitz
What do you think made you unique in the MBA application process?
I am a “ee” Freedman. Sorry Milton.
What App Needs To Be Made:
I’ve never used a dating app, but it has come to my attention that straight people dating apps don’t test for sexual capability – that seems like a serious market gap.
Favorite Disney Movie:
What’s The Hardest Lesson You’ve Learned Thus Far?
Everywhere you go there you are
Favorite Booth Memory Thus Far:
Diwali cruise – I split open a pair of pink bell bottoms
What Is Special About The Place You Grew Up?
It’s the land of dreamers
What Job Would You Be Terrible At :
Anything hyper repetitious without the possibility of building something new
What Age Do You Want To Live Until:
As old as I get without being on life support or having dementia
Favorite Place To Eat In Chicago:
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Between Paris in the mid 1970s and Shanghai in the 2030s
What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Freedman Fitzpatrick artists; The digital privacy debates
I use ad blockers
What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?
Long list, but in short:
- Sail around the world
- Cross continental road trips on every continent
- Make and raise beautiful babies
- Write a few books
What Do You Wish You Knew More About:
The ocean and Women’s health. Human life is so dependent on both and we don’t really know much about either
I could get in trouble here so let’s keep it to Sturtevant and Isa Genzken
Favorite Candy / Snack:
Frozen Bananas and Blueberries
What Location Is At The Top Of Your Travel Bucket List?
China and Taiwan
What Was The Virtual Internship Experience Like?
I spent my summer working on a small team of three other women interviewing 40+ executives and managers across multiple verticals and functions about the future of supply chains and trade finance, to understand how existing technologies like IoT fall short. The final deliverable was a presentation with my team to our division and a followup presentation for the VP of App Dev. The online format made the hierarchy in our relationships flatter and more intimate. Interviewing so many industry leaders across functions, it was inspiring to hear their experiences and ideas about the future.
But surprisingly, what I came away with most had little to do with technology. It was about leadership and the value of trust in building teams, joint ventures, and a reputation. Speaking to leaders 20-30 years in, I ended my summer with a clear understanding of just how pivotal that trust is.
What Fictional Place Do You Dream Of Going To?
Never never land
How Will The World Be Different Post COVID-19?
We will have to find a way to live in a village again
What Is Worth Splurging On Everytime?
How Will You Make Your Life A “Good Life”?
Keep finding Freedman
Most Memorable Gift That You’ve Ever Received?
My great-grandmother’s graduation ring from 1916. My grandmother gave it to me when I graduated college. My great-great grandfather refused to allow my great-grandmother to attend high school, so her terminating degree was middle school. My grandmother, her daughter, went on to get a PhD.
What Lifestyle Changes Are You Trying To Make?
Trying to set up my life to become the woman I want to be at 40 as opposed to who I wanted to be at 30. There are some growing pains there.
If Magic Was Real, Which Spell Would You Try First?
Alleviating Hunger. It sounds cheesy, but it is a fundamental reason why so many people never meet their potential.
What Do You Think Makes A Good Friend – How Much Do You Live Up To Your Standards?
Loyalty. Being able to listen, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts. I strive to meet those standards, but I fail sometimes.
What Do You Want To Get Out Of B-School?
- Time to think.
- A more comprehensive understanding of data, Machine Learning/AI, and the implications of digitization on policy and business practice.
- Working for a big company. The largest company I had worked for pre-Booth was less than 150 people. Microsoft is 150K.
- To build new friendships – what is life without people!
Best Trip Of Your Life Thus Far:
Hitchhiking across East Africa at 22 to: Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eastern DRC, and Kenya
Who Do You Go Out Of Your Way To Be Nice To?
Children who seem alienated
What Really Makes You Angry?
Racism and gaslighting
What Industry Do You Think Will Be Revolutionized Soon?
Healthcare and platform economics
What Would Your Last Meal Be?
Holy Basil Chicken with a Fried Egg from Saap Coffee Shop
How Would You Describe Your Booth Experience:
Damned good timing – being in school vs leading my own venture sheltered me a lot. Rather than putting out a lot of fires, I got to learn, explore, and lead gender equity initiatives as a CWiB Co-Chair. Booth during COVID was not the experience I anticipated, but the space to think during a time of upheaval was a gift that I will be grateful for in the years to come.