reject special invitees...
interview with Steven Music


by Chiara Zocchi

How does it feel being the father of a prize with such a nice name?
A daily inspiration, as is the colour light blue for me!

How did you go about choosing such a ‘sympathetic’ jury and selection committee?
I was thinking how diverse societies have become, how much eclecticism there is about. Also there is an abounding youthfulness (in a good sense) which permeates all levels of our society (except in politics) and tends to equalize professionals’ standing whatever their experience may have been. Following this tendency, we have put together a team of curators who are working between public institutions and the market.

Is the committee ‘sympathetic’ from an etymological point of view, in the sense of it ‘feeling together’, being ‘passionate together’ or ‘choosing together’, because it’s difficult to share the same emotions in front of beautiful (or ugly) works?
No, Celeste Prize’s selectors are not necessarily etymologically ‘sympathetic’. They come from different professional experiences, range widely in age, and have been brought together to make choices. Each curator has accepted to be part of an open selection process in which his or her preferences are visible to everyone in the network; this in respect of the many artists who enter the prize, means the selection process comes before choices on content, type of language or aesthetics used in works. Any affinity which selectors may have between each other is secondary.

What is the difference between the ‘jury’ and the ‘selection committee’, they are two difficult words? What is their purpose? Where do they want to go? Far, very far or remain nearby?
The jury will choose five winners among 50 finalist works, and is made up of three institutional curators; while the selection committee is made up of a variety of arts professionals who will select finalist works which will be exhibited in New York. I believe all selectors are aiming to reach far out, if it means working with artists who have something to add to artistic practice.

What relationship will an artist have with the jury and selection committee?
Until selections are announced in September, I hope it will be a relationship ‘at a distance’. Artwork must speak for itself and not people! Equality of treatment, guaranteed by the selection process – which is open and based on the majority principle of preferences given by many selectors – shoulders those who would like to ensure ‘their’ artist reaches the final – Celeste Prize is not an invite only art prize! Today, we accept taking important decisions at a distance with very little preamble or relationship-building, if our partners are credible. At the same time, Celeste’s online network enables each artist to be in instant contact with every member of the jury and selection committee.

What’s new compared with last year’s ‘celestial’ edition?
Only five artists will win cash prizes, therefore it’s important that as many artists as possible have the chance to benefit from a series of opportunities, such as: exhibitions, residencies, study courses and promotion.. This year the Celeste team has worked very hard to provide many more benefits to artists. The other important news, after two years in which finalists chose the winners, it’s now the jury’s job to elect the winners.

Which characteristics does an artist have to have to participate in Celeste Prize?
The ability to synthesize the ideas in one’s work and step forward in public, whatever past years’ experiences may have been! To be noticed by a selection committee which chooses at a distance, it is important that works are clear reflections of one’s thought, that good images of works are provided and are presented with an informing, textual statement. Courage and tenacity are useful too, as works are shown among hundreds of others; an ability to accept all that comes with showing your work in a network; reject systems which allow ‘special invitees’ to win.



Chiara Zocchi: Writer, journalist, singer, artist
Steven Music: Founder of Celeste Prize

Jury and Selection Committee 2011
http://www.celesteprize.com/jury2011/