Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Artist's Statement - the Dentistry of the Art World

All of us who work in this crazy art business have had to write an artist's statement from time to time. We all hate having to do it... but often there is no way out. I've just had to write two statements and it was a chore. Not because I dislike writing, I just don't like writing about my work. For a start I don't think anybody reads what I've written and why should they... after all the work is not so much about what I'm trying to say, but about what the reader of the work takes out of it. And that has nothing to do with any tortured statement I was forced to write. At least I managed to avoid talking about memory and desire, two conceptual hooks that seem to crop up in far too many artist's statements. 
The worst artist's statements are not written by artist's at all but by their gallerist. These literary triumphs often enter the realm of stream of consciousness art speak mumbo-jumbo that attempts to elevate some poor daubers decorative rubbish to high art. 
With my head swimming in artist's statement land I came across a piece written by Jennifer Liese on the site PAPER MONUMENT. Here the artist's statement is put under the microscope and it's a good read. You can go there HERE
By way of a sample:  Of course, artists’ words have long been met with skepticism, not least by artists themselves. Matisse, despite his own eloquence, famously declared that “a painter ought to have his tongue cut out.” Pollock played dumb. Warhol mastered obfuscation. 
There’s no denying the sorry state of the statement, and we all know it. The ubiquitous request “Please include an artist statement …” inspires cringes and groans among artists. An artist friend of mine called artist statements “the dentistry of the art world,” ... one of several statement satires on YouTube features a pair of animated pig-artists translating pretentious claims of artist statements into the banal truth. Likewise, art professionals are tired of reading these often hyperbolic, embarrassing, or at best monotonous texts. Artist Nina Katchadourian, former curator of the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, once told me that of the hundreds of artist statements she had read that year, only one really stood out. A gallery owner interviewed in Art/Work emphatically states that he never reads artist statements. What could be more deflating? You slave all week over your nourishing stew and no one even bothers to taste it.
Now if you are really stuck for a compelling artist's statement you can go to artybollocks generator and whip up a statement on demand. Here is one they wrote for me: 
My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and counter-terrorism.With influences as diverse as Blake and Andy Warhol, new combinations are synthesised from both mundane and transcendant textures. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of relationships. What starts out as hope soon becomes debased into a manifesto of temptation, leaving only a sense of failing and the dawn of a new beginning. As wavering forms become reconfigured through boundaried and academic practice, the viewer is left with a clue to the inaccuracies of our existence. 

And finally for some real inspiration you can go to YouTube and watch a 4 minute vid by writer, critic and educator Joerg Colberg. He nails it!!! You can go there HERE

Now get writing! 

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