Friday, January 16, 2015

Artist Statements: "Blah Blah Blah" Translated

Copyright © Edward Riojas

In researching the subject of artist statements, I waded through page after page of online hits dedicated to how-to’s for writing artist statements and generators that made the task of writing one even easier. That pretty much confirmed my suspicions that there is something stinky in the cesspool beneath artsy-fartsydom. Artist statements are somehow supposed to clarify an artist’s work. In theory, they explain the artist’s essence to any art show juror and thereby allow the cream of the art gene pool to float to the top. In reality, the only place they float is in a latrine.

The biggest problem with artist statements is that they ignore what art is – visual. That means we look at art. We don’t read it and we don’t listen to it. And if we don’t listen to it, then we certainly don’t want to listen to drivel gushing out of an artist’s pie-hole. If an artist must explain something about his work, then he has already failed miserably in whatever he has attempted.

However, it wouldn’t be fair if you only took my word that artist statements have gotten overly ripe. You be the judge and decide for yourself if the artist is being honest about their work. I’ve grabbed some excerpts from real artist statements and have presented them below. For those who fall asleep reading these masterpieces, I’ve also included a translation after each excerpt to save you the time otherwise lost forever to stupidity. I’ve also covered the shame of the artists and left the quotes anonymous...

“...Each of my projects serves as a means to connect the scientific concepts I admire with the visual metaphors that I crave, through which I enhance my own personal sense of understanding, while facilitating a dialog and shared sense of discovery with my audience and collaborators.”
TRANSLATION: I like science and want to make visual sense of it, so I talk about it with other idiots.

“I paint in order to see things that would not exist if I did not paint them... As I get older, it gets more difficult to write about my own work. However, the less I am able to articulate what I do, the more I trust in my process.....”
TRANSLATION: I make stuff up, and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

“No two voices are alike. No event is ever the same. Each intersection in this project is both made and found. All making is an act of attention and attention is an act of recognition and recognition is the something happening that is thought itself. As a bird whose outstretched wings momentarily catch the light and change thought’s course, we attend the presence of the tactile and perhaps most importantly – we attend to each other. If on a swing, we are alone, we are together in a field. This condition of the social is the event of a thread...”
TRANSLATION: We talk like snowflakes. Everybody recognizes something. I’m a bird.

”...These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire – a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.”
TRANSLATION: These pictures mean something else. We are so messed up. I recycle.

“There are primitive animal instincts lurking in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality...”
TRANSLATION: I might look like an artist, but I’m an aardvark or a mean barn cat or something.

The bottom line is: It is absurd to expect artists to step outside their discipline’s comfort zone and actually write something about art. Oops. Did I just write that?


  1. Hilarious! If more artist statements were written like this, I might actually read them.