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
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
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?