Polishing Turds and Gilding Lillies – Artspeak

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I don’t do Artspeak.

The single most difficult task for any contemporary fine artist is writing an artist’s statement. By “artist’s statement” I do not mean a biography or an explanation of technique, but the kind of statement that explains how your work “negotiates an uneasy discourse between existing cultural tropes as they are mediated by a need to address the hegemony of an overarching post-modernist ambivalence towards the metaphysical archetypes of history.”

Not bad, eh?

I know what all those words mean but I don’t use them, at least not like that. I have two problems with this kind of writing, used by both artists and critics. One is my strong belief in plain English and the other is that my work comprises a number of strands that are not necessarily possible to cohere into a single statement. What’s more, this kind of artificially rationalised understanding denies something that is almost universal in artists’ motivation, and that is ambivalence.

I have worked in a wide variety of media and my work is sometimes purely aesthetic, sometimes symbolic, satirical or emotive. Sometimes I choose a medium to suit the subject, and sometimes make work that is a one-off project. As a result, it is very difficult to talk about myself as a “type” of artist, or a medium specialist such as a painter or a photographer.

But the real crux of the matter is that if your work doesn’t speak for itself, then how could any amount of explanation compensate for that? Additionally, why would you think that the sublime could be enhanced by mere chatter?

Anyway, if you would like to generate some Artspeak for yourself, without the pain of having to learn all the words, here are a few web-based tools to help you manufacture something.

This first one requires you to input a 5-digit number and below is my first attempt.
“Although I am not a painter, I think that the reductive quality of the spatial relationships contextualize a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s.”

Uncannily accurate.

Here are a few more links:

Additional links added 5th February 2013


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