Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In
March 2, 2012
In the interest of raising the bar on artists statements, I've decided to post all I come across that fulfill my basic parameters, which you will remember are:
An artist’s statement should be fun to read, and shed no light whatsoever on the intention, content, or experience of the work.
Therefore this from Barbara Barg, who I know from the poetry world:
Barg was the first being born out of formless chaos. For billions of years, Barg grew in a cosmic egg, working ceaselessly to create order by separating her clear yang from her turbid yin. The clear became the egg white, the turbid the yolk. After incubating for billions of years, Barg hatched from the egg and laid down to rest. Her breath became the wind, her voice the thunder. Her left eye became the sun, her right eye the moon. Her limbs and trunk became the mountain ranges. Her blood became the rivers, her flesh the fertile soil. Her hair became the stars and the Milky Way, her fur the trees and forests. Her teeth and bones became metals and minerals. The marrow of her bones became jade and pearls. Her sweat became the rain and the dew. And when the wind blew, the fleas on her fur became fish and animals. Then, feeling well-rested, she got up and wrote some poems.
So now that we’ve gotten artist’s statements out of the way, let me vent a bit on another prose genre—the interview—which I’ve always considered a low form of journalism. Andy Warhol made interviews famous, but he loved vacuity, and that’s fine when one celeb is asking questions of another and no one is pretending to be a writer or even serious. In art magazines, however, interviews often come across as a legitimized excuse for the writer to get out of actually writing something, or even doing their homework (“Where did you grow up?”), with little more insight than we’d get from a press release. I remember starting to read one interview with an artist whose work I was not familiar with, where the first question was, “How does it feel to be back in New York?” Needless to say, I turned the page.