Catch turns seven
The performance series gears up for its anniversary.
Mon Aug 23 2010
THE SHOW GOES ON Dinwiddie, left, and Larson preside over a night of Catch
What makes a running show last? In 2003, Jenny Seastone Stern initiated Catch, a bimonthly showcase for the emerging avant-garde that came to life at Galapagos when the space was located in Williamsburg. A year later, Andrew Dinwiddie and Jeff Larson took over the program (Caleb Hammons is also in the fold, as the administrative director). On Saturday 28, the 40th edition of Catch will take place at the Bushwick Starr with a typically standard evening of seven-minute works by Anna Azrieli, Sara Barron, Milka Djordjevich, Beth Gill, Living Things and Chris Schlichting (Neal Medlyn, performing for 14 minutes, gets two slots). The evening, which will be followed by a party, marks Catch’s seventh year. In honor, the curators chatted about its ongoing appeal.
On the curatorial process:
Jeff Larson: The enterprise of Catch shifted gears fairly dramatically when we took over and started talking about what we wanted to do. It was basically the same format, but [we considered] the question of who Catch was presenting and how to encourage work that was more considered. Of course, you’re always going to have someone throw something up there when you are not prescreening the work, but we had specific ways in which we thought, Oh, maybe by bringing some more established people into the mix, that will change the way that people think about what they’re doing and how they’re preparing. David Neumann and Cynthia Hopkins did pieces on our first show. We think of it as a potential incubator for works and also for artists who don’t have larger opportunities.
Andrew Dinwiddie: For a while, we asked people to do seven minutes one month and then 14 minutes a few months later—just to encourage them to get closer to their goal of doing a full show. But we really ask people to do whatever they want. We almost always phrase our invitations as, “Would you like to do seven minutes of whatever you want at Catch?” Anna Azrieli asked [to be in Catch], and I had seen her at Dixon Place a while ago in a piece that I couldn’t really tell whether I hated; it bothered me so much that I ended up thinking it was good. We make a conscious effort to not be sure about everybody on the program. There’s got to be at least one wildcard.
Larson: I think a lot of our curatorial input comes not just in choosing the artists, but in knowing what the dance or theater schedule is for that coming year, or what people have just recently done. We have a sense of, well, if we ask this person they’re probably going to present work that’s related to an upcoming show. Or, we haven’t seen this person do anything in a while—let’s reach out.
On the show itself:
Dinwiddie: We have beer. That’s one of the most important things about it for us. We’d refuse to do it at a place that didn’t have beer.
Larson: That makes me think: When we started doing Catch, we didn’t know exactly what we wanted it to be. In moving away from Galapagos and starting to do it at other places, one thing I quickly began to realize is that a huge part of the show is that it’s a community event. There are probably more than enough variety shows presenting short work. I think there is a balance that we need to strike between how we’re serving artists who are part of the show and then, ultimately, how we’re serving our audience.
Dinwiddie: And if we’re not serving the specific audience, then we’re not serving the community because they won’t come. I feel like people really do enjoy the shows, I guess. Maybe people who hate it don’t talk to me.
Larson: Mixed shows are a dime a dozen. It’s just important to continue to ask, Is what we’re doing relevant? Is it serving anyone? Is it fun for us? It has to be all of those things.
To catch a show
Catch 41: October 2
Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith
Catch 42: December 4
Catch 40 is at the Bushwick Starr Sat 28.