Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Artist's Statement and Other Atrocities

"The multi-layered imagery of my work is prompted by an intuitive response to world events and cultures, nature and Jungian psychology, and the conventions of visual and verbal language."

"My Inner Landscape Series explores layers of ideas, perceptions, beliefs and realities."

"I photograph the space between the camera and the subject."

"I believe the 'objects' of our reality are in themselves meaningful and I try to elucidate the 'true meaning' or one of the true 'meanings' of my subjects by revealing one or more aspects of their nature."

What's up with this nonsense? It looks like nearly meaningless babble, and yet the artists do not appear to be illiterate, or imbecile. To an extent, it's marketing. Whether true or not, there is a perception that the one needs to provide some vague artistic sounding bullshit to give your work suitable gravitas.

Whence this gravitas? There is a germ of something in here, as surely as this is marketing, surely there is also, sometimes, an effort to describe in words something not expressible in words. By being seen to struggle with putting the ineffable in to words the artist suggests that the work itself encompasses something ineffable.

That the artist struggles to express the ineffable has, in truth, no relationship whatsoever to the work. The work may or may not express the inexpressible. We should not, though it is difficult, allow ourselves to be prejudiced against work based on the artist's statement (or other similar jibba-jibba the artist has supplied). We should allow the possibility that the jibba-jabba actually is a sort of allegorical description of the work, or the artist's process. If it is truly an effort to say something unsayable, we should respect that. Since we can't know which it is, we should give the respect, taking the high road rather than the low in the face of uncertainty.

My own reaction to this sort of thing is unfairly negative, I find that high road rather difficult. I find that the artsy babbling suggests a lack of confidence. My preference is for no artist's statement at all, or one which merely states that the work speaks for itself, that the artist has nothing to say that is not in the art.

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