mindmarrow

October 25, 2012 Repository 24: Artist Statements and Arty Bollocks Posted In: art practice, contemporary art

Oh the dreaded artist statement. I’ve actually written and edited countless artist statements for other artists, but now when I need to do my own the awkwardness ensues. Despite the discomfort, I actually see it as a creative exercise, a nice way to bridge a gap between what I thought I was doing in the studio, what I realize I’ve done, and what information a viewer of the work may care to know.

I’m incredibly critical of artist statements as I really don’t know if artists know that they are making their work more lonely by presenting verbal gymnastics to describe their private visual language – it’s all so bizarre and inauthentic. And I love artists, so it makes me even more incensed that we are not more well versed at this task.

I wish I could post some examples of the long, fluffy and arrogant statements that have brought a chuckle/tear to my eye but that would not be nice. So for a good laugh, visit this site which generates automatic artist statements, a clever tool created by like-minded people who have scratched their heads on too many occasions reading cryptic artist statements. They even have a twitter feed generator of said statements.

So for transparency’s sake and good measure, below is the artist statement I am working on for an upcoming show I am having in December. Any feedback would be much appreciated;)

ARTIST STATEMENT
My work is an exploration of power – power within and outside, power in its implicit working through all levels of life and experience. My work is based on photographs mostly and there’s often a political undercurrent in the choice of imagery. I draw subject matter from the most banal to the most charged photo-journalistic images.

The works here at (x) are inspired by my research on a myth of Aphrodite and Psyche. Psyche who is in love with Eros, Aphrodite’s son, is desperate to see him – she asks Aphrodite for permission to see him. Aphrodite says yes, only if she success in four impossible tasks. The task I am focusing on with these works is “Learning to Say No”. For this task Psyche has to go to the underworld to fetch something for Aphrodite from Persephone. On her way down she encounters many pathetic people, horrific situations and general destitution. Her task is to say no three times to anyone asking her for help on the way down.

To me this symbolizes a conundrum we face in contemporary life – given the amount of tragedy and incredible misfortune we are exposed to on a world-wide scale, how and when can we suppress compassion and say no? When do we engage and when do we stay put? What is our power to effect change, or not?

I have chosen images from the past as a setting for this journey. In particular the 1940s and 50s, as this was a period of major turbulence despite glossy media images that would suggest otherwise. Our world today seems similar in many ways.

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All of your belongings, oil on canvas, Catherine Haley Epstein

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