Charlotte Jansen: Good to see you the other night at the Catlin Prize. And those pointy jazzy shoes of yours... have a good time?
Philippa Snow: Those jazzy shoes were an absolute nightmare; half a size too small, and the tip came off the heel when I - very sensibly - went straight home after the prize (by which I mean: "went for whiskey sours in a dark bar").
CJ: Talking of dark rooms; I meant to ask you what you were doing crouching down on the floor there when I got in?
PS: I was trying to get some signal, in fact, to send my partner a picture of the big blue monster with the caption "I can't believe this is what I do for a job." He responded with "nice suit." A wag. Did you end up feeling terrible the next day, or no? I think if I had stayed, I definitely might have done. In a very professional manner, obviously.
CJ: Well, the aperol cocktails did not help. But they definitely made me very verbose about the art that evening. So, the winner for 2013 was Terry Ryu Kim, who created the installation piece, Screening Solution I, II & III: now 5k richer. Deserved? (deserve-ed?)
PS: I think that it was the slickest work in the show, and I think that it was the most eminently saleable. If I'm absolutely honest, I didn't initially realise that it was an artwork - I thought that it was a piece of elaborate set-dressing, designed to hustle us into the room with, you know, the dancing monster. But that's sort of the point, right? A rat in a maze, pushing a button for a long-remembered treat (read: Campari cocktail). The CCTV, in fact, was sort of eerie and pale and ephemeral and just unheimlich, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-your-own-reflection kind of way.
David Ogle, 08020; Photo by Peter Hope.
CJ: It had a definite finesse to it, and I like that idea, turning visitors into surveilled subjects on a stage in the appropriated public space. But I do think my favourite was the light work in the second room... what did you make of it?
PS: Ah, the David Ogle! Would this have been your winner? I'm always cautious about light works, because they're so easy to make into something good-looking and ultimately, you know, contempo. As with the winning work, one could have this perfectly tastefully in one's home, assuming that "one" were a collector of art, and had a home which was generally palatial. What was it you liked in particular about it - the style, or the content?
CJ: And I know you were a bit disturbed by those Japanese face-tighteners...
PS: Yes, there's an absolutely horrifying informercial for them. Hang on - I'll find it, as we're doing this for the web:
Shades of Mike Myers in his plastic Shatner mask. I'm quite interested to hear what you thought of these (these being Juno Calypso's images), as they were the winner of the visitors' prize: one thing which did really strike me was the attention to detail, in the colour schemes and the settings. That sort of thing in constructed images of this type always makes me think about, say, Guy Bourdin - there's something very seventies about it. I'm a big Guy Bourdin fan, so that's no small compliment. Some very heavy Lynchian vibes going on there, as well, wouldn't you say?
Juno Calypso, Reconstituted Meat Slices; Courtesy Juno Calypso.
CJ: Shudder. You know how I've hated Lynch since you forced me to watch Blue Velvet. WHY would anyone make such a film.
It’s always interesting at Catlin to see the disparity between the simultaneous visitor's vote (this year won by Juno Calypso) and what the judges select…
PS: I don't say this to deliberately underestimate the public (or the winner of the public vote), but I suppose I always expect their winner to be something that's either appealing to the eye, or that has a certain novelty to it. Honestly, I assumed that the monster piece would be their winner, but Calypso makes a kind of sense, as well; it's the sort of imagery which might look at home in a womenswear campaign, or as the artwork for a Lana Del Ray L.P. (at least, at absolute face value, which is its intention, I think).
(I'm aware that this is making me seem pretentious as all hell, but I sort of am. I apologise.)
CJ: I can’t believe I missed that big fluffy blue monster!
[Part of the performance by Nick Deeley].
PS: I know that this is perhaps not the most important quality in an art work, but it was Goddamned adorable. Intellectually, I was certain that it was a person in a monster suit, and not a real monster. Emotionally, I just wanted to bury my face in that big blue behemoth's chest, and go to sleep. I also felt convinced, on some level, that it would be the big blue monster receiving the prize if Nicky Deeley were to have won, and felt cheated not getting to see the resultant acceptance speech.
(If anybody who knows Nicky Deeley is reading this: I will buy that monster suit.)
CJ: (Oh me too. You can have it for the weekend and holidays).
But really what we should ask ourselves, and each other, is: do canapes distract from art? What is your view on food at openings? And canapes: if consumed in sufficient quantity, can they ever really replace dinner?
PS: "Free food is good food," as I have tattooed over the small of my back - I don't think canapes can ever hurt anything. I didn't actually eat any of these, though - were they any good?
I think maybe next time, they should theme the canapes around the work: I've always felt that more artworks could do with being edible. Sarah Lucas had the right idea with her indecent kebabs.
What did you think of the quality of the venue, by the way? Really quite a stylishly put-together - and well-stocked, in terms of booze and those aforementioned untried-canapes - event, I thought. A real thing for the calendar (you can imagine my air quotes here).
I like the Londonnewcastle space. It’s the second year the Prize has run here and it really fills it, so many shows I’ve seen there don’t know what to do with such endless space, but it has a great flow that really benefits the artists, and I think that more than anything constitutes good curating. The Prize night has become a very popular party event for sure - let’s not forget that it has corporate support, hence all those suits and cocktails, and don’t try to smoke a joint the in garden by the way - but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Justin Hammond [the Catlin Prize curator] knows how to work both things together, and it’s ultimately doing a good thing for emerging artists.
—Philippa Snow & Charlotte Jansen
(Image on top: Nicky Deeley performing Island Year; photograph by Emily Hasell.)