Citizen M & The Turner Prize

13 October 2015

Well, it finally happened - I was eventually initiated into the club of the cool kids - the club of the people who have stayed at the ultra-modern, ultra-hip and ultra- well, I'm afraid there's no other word for it, cool hotel chain. I've seen the CitizenM pop up on the blogs of pretty much everyone and I've been dying for an excuse to go, so when I got an email inviting me to not only stay at the CitizenM in Glasgow but also to be whisked of for a night of drinks, art and food as well I couldn't say yes fast enough!

I hung up my coat and dumped my bag, before being the serious blogger businesswoman that I am and checking my emails. Nah, totally kidding - I'm playing Two Dots. Anyone else addicted? That phone case, btw, is a complete bargain from Amazon for any fellow Harry Potter fans out there. I'm still finding it difficult getting cases for the iPhone 6+ - even in Florida the choice at Walt Disney World was pretty limited, so I was really happy with this find!

After not being professional and checking emails, I took some selfies. Because I'm a blogger and what else is a girl to do? The first one is accurately showing how pleased I was to be in my super comfy and sleek hotel room...

It was a little bit blurry though, so I retook. This ones in focus but I don't look quite as happy...

I've just realised - we haven't discussed my change of hair colour on the blog here, but I have shown you all on instagram (it's just rosekeats on there, so make sure you're following!) and YouTube, so I'm presuming you're all up to date. This was two days after it was first done and I feel like even in the past few weeks between then and now it's faded so much! I'm not sure how long I'll keep it but it's fun to do something crazy every once in a while!

After a bit of posing I changed for the evening, forgot to bother taking any new outfit photos and left for the canapés and drinks reception in the hotel's bar. Which, you guessed it, is very cool. The CitizenM is all decked out in art, which was why the company thought they'd host us for an event themed around the Turner Prize - there was a clear tie in between their brand and the art movement. As it was, I was too busy concentrating on my first love - sushi. Oh boy, was that good sushi!

So good it required two pictures - obviously.

After a catch up with the other bloggers I already knew and introductions to those I didn't we were whisked off into a fleet of taxis to head towards the Turner Prize Exhibition itself.

The pieces which are nominated all had the potential to be the kind of art I term 'living art' by which I mean art I can interact with. Art which is not confined to a frame. In its own way each piece of art was some form of installation but the result was four very different installations.

The one which probably got me the most excited was Bonnie Camplin's The Military Industrial Complex, mainly because it was so eerily similar to a project I'd put together for my fourth year of my undergrad.

The set up of paper and hard-copy materials around the edges with the films on the screens, watched by individuals with headphones was exactly the set up I had for my project - although mine was centred around The Scottish Independence Referendum, the screens had verbatim statements which I'd collected and filmed myself recording from people about why they'd voted as they had in the Referendum and the materials around the outside were copies of various articles and materials published in relation to the Referendum by both the Yes and No campaigns and the media.

Although the subject matter was obviously different the projects were still very similar, and what that got me really excited about was that I'd come to mine from a drama background - my project was installation theatre, in that I was there acting live as a guide taking the audience through the exhibition, but the audience moved around the piece and watched each of the pieces of verbatim as an individual. I had come to my concept through researching practitioners in drama such as Felix Barrett's work with Punchdrunk and wanting to experiment and take inspiration from their huge scale installation theatre pieces whereas Camplin holds a BFA in Fine Art Film and Video and a Post Grad in Advanced Photography. What I think is so interesting at the moment is the cross over between what is art and what is performance? I find the way that each discipline borrows elements from the other absolutely fascinating, but how do we define which is which and, I suppose, should we have to define it?

This question went even further round my mind when I viewed Janet Kerbel's piece DOUG. DOUG was again a real cross over piece between performance and art in that it was a group of singers, all wearing plain black, who stood and performed the piece. The art created by Kerbel was the music and the arrangement of the music. Kerbel created the music to tell the story of Doug and what happens to him - he has a series of accidents and the piece concentrates on 'translating [those] ‘accident’ [s] into musical form. Voice, rhythmic verse and the structures inherent in music are used to give shape to the events that befall him.' The piece is performed differently depending now which day you go - performance schedule here - so that if you go on Monday you get a completely different arrangement and experience to going on Friday. I think this is incredibly innovative and interesting but, it brings me back to why is this classed as art, in terms of being eligible for an art prize? Why is this being considered as being a contender for this prize but, for a facetious example, Andrew Lloyd Webber who has composed and arranged innumerable scores has never been nominated for the prize? Obviously there are plenty of reasons he hasn't been (and he's got more than enough awards) but I hope you get my point.

There was also discussion on the night about people feeling in relation to art. I will happily admit I didn't feel very much from any of the pieces - Kerbel was the only one who gave me feelings, and that was probably because the chosen medium - the music - made me emotional. Does this mean the others failed in some way, if they didn't make me feel anything? Is the point in art to make up feel or to make us think? Because each of these pieces made me think - albeit for various lengths of time, but I certainly didn't go through any form of catharsis coming through the exhibition. 

When I created my project for my undergrad, I performed every performance role - live and filmed - myself because I was basing it off of Brecht's theory that ensemble playing allows the viewer to emotionally detach and to think about the work they are presented with (and wasn't one personal playing every role the ultimate ensemble?) It wasn't my intention when I created the project to make people feel anything, rather to make them think. It was politically charged and for me that didn't really mix well with emotions. The aim of my piece was to make the audience understand the points of views of others because, to quote Dumbledore 'Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery'. (And yes, I did actually quote that in my essay too!)

Therefore if we accept the changing definition of art into being cross medium and cross disciplinary do we need to then also change what our expectation of art is? A textbook and a fiction novel are both books, but they serve different purposes. Can art serve more than one purpose and does that change in purpose mean that art no longer has to be associated with feeling?

Anyway... I'm thinking out loud here. Or typing out loud, so to speak. Would be genuinely interested to hear thoughts!

Back to the pretty pictures...

After the exhibition we headed to the Glasgow institute that is Stravaigin. I don't think there's a Glasgow Foodie worth their salt who hasn't eaten here, so I have no idea why it's taken till now for it to appear on the blog. As it was we didn't get our food till near enough 10pm (not through the restaurant's fault, I hasten to add, we arrived super later after the exhibition!) and I'm afraid I was so tired I didn't remotely snap enough photos for you. The ambiance in Stravaigin lovely, and it's one of the most relaxed places to eat well in Glasgow, but unfortunately I've only got the most basic of photos which don't quite convey that at all!

Our bill was paid for by the lovely CitizenM who had invited us down but for £30 for three courses the set menu is well worth checking out.

I started with the pigeon, which was delightful, the pigeon and the veg was all super tender and melt in the mouth.

For my main course I went with the picanha (which, incidentally, my Mac is insistent on autocorrecting to piranha!) with mashed potatoes - such a comfort meal, such a perfect one and oh-so-easy to get wrong! Luckily Stravaigin did not only not get it wrong, they got it so incredibly right.

My mouth is watering just looking at the above picture - that picanha was perfection! And that butter... oh it was just so good! I don't know why I decided that the middle of the night was the best time for me to start writing up a post that included food porn like this!

For dessert I had what I know is the parfait with the brownie - the only problem is, after examining the £30 set menu on the website this definitely isn't an option on it! Not sure if the dessert options have just changed slightly in the past week or what but this is one you can definitely order off the normal menu and I do highly recommend doing so.

I know it's not necessarily the most photogenic of desserts - a lot of brown involved - but trust me when I say it tastes much better than it looks!

Bellies full of food and wine and champagne we headed back down Stravaigin's narrow little stairs (danger zone!) and, sloth like, crawled into a taxi sometime around midnight to take us home from the ball and back to the CitizenM. I think at one point in the night we had ideas of continuing the evening in one another's rooms with a girly gossip but when we arrived back I think we all just face planted into our own massive beds and I'm ashamed to say it was so comfortable I checked out at the very last minute the next morning and sacrificed breakfast for an extra hour in that bed!

All in all I had a wonderful culture filled evening and my only complaint would be not spending enough time in the CitizenM itself - we were so busy adventuring I don't think I got enough opportunity to take advantage of the free wifi and the library of on demand movies! Well, you've gotta save something for next time....

Join the conversation!

  1. Sounds like such a fun, interesting and insightful evening Roisin. I must admit that I don't know a lot about art and sometimes I feel that I don't 'get' modern art other than thinking things are nice to look at. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the blurring of boundaries between art and performance and what makes one thing art as opposed to another. At the end of the day are all examples of self expression art in the greatest sense of the word, whether that's music, books, performance..? I think I need to go away and have a proper think about that! We can discuss it next time I see you :) The hotel looks so beautiful too. I have never stayed there but Robin has and enjoyed his stay as well. I think leaving some things to the next time is the way, as then there will definately be a next time! xx

  2. Cute blouse and nice dessert :)
    Maria V.

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