How not to write an artist statement

Home » How not to write an artist statement

Santanu Borah walks through the maze of artist statements and tries to figure out a statement that can be truly confusing. He also tells you where you can auto-generate beautifully pretentious statements and other such unavoidable things 

Hello friends, curators and buyers,

My name is Being Real. I am an artist. Painting for the last several years. I am a (wo)man of many mediums. Watercolours to waste water. Here I will enunciate as clearly as possible why I paint what I paint and how.

Since my early childhood I loved art. I was unique like all other children. I was drawing and doing art and I had no idea one day all my doodles and diddles would fall into place and I would create an indescribable holy mess. I paint for myself and myself alone and I don’t care what people think. Because I doubt if people think at all. I care only when people criticize me.

I did a degree in art from a pretentious art school which taught me how to talk a good game. Now, I recycle stuff that I have heard countless times and quote it whenever there is a journalist around me. When I draw an elephant in the room, I say it comes from the deepest depths of my despair due to my dislike for deep pan pizzas.

Anyway, moving on, I would like to tell you little about my inspiration. I am inspired by natural nature and urban cities, and especially when the natural nature is in the urban cities I am more thoroughly inspired. And emotions! Yes, how could I forget emotions, that most common thing? Emotions do everything for me. I can stay in the same emotional state even when I am painting a picture for a month. That’s my special skill — stability that borders on boredom. I also believe line creates form and form creates line, and the circular dabs of paint I put on a zebra are actually stripes because form is also line.

I love talking about art in a way that nobody understands because art is a mystery. Since I have read some history, I am sure that art is a mystery. So, often, I indulge in words about art that makes no sense. For instance, check these examples that somebody actually wrote and I found on the internet. It perfectly states my state of mysterious confusion and questionable intention:

“My practice examines hesitation as part of the process of decision-making, where the object is neither the object of objecthood nor the art-object. It is rather the oblique object of my intentions…”

“… A group of sculptural works that aims at a void that signifies precisely the non-being of what it represents…”

“Universality of our biological make-up and landscape; combined with the collective sense of the sublime…”

Now that you have read these, let me tell you about a list of 20 expressions that the critic and writer, Andrea Liu, has listed that look substantial, keep everyone guessing and annoy the hell out of her:

“liminal space”, “in its final iteration”, “itinerant practice”, “rupture” or “suture”, “post-Fordism”, “the performative dimension of language”, “seeks to negotiate the tension between X and Y”, “seeks to problematize”, “a continually deferred relationship”, “collaborative duo”, “subverting the traditional subject/object relationship”, “multi-channel sound and video installation”, “the ongoing interplay between physical site and displacement”, “temporal/spatial dynamics”, “the affective dimension”, “the dialogical relationship between”, “a hybrid space”, “re-purposed materials”, “basically I am really just an inventor” (almost always said by heterosexual male artist), and, finally, something that you probably see in thousands of artist statements, in general: “I am intrigued by xyz”.

Since we have this in order, let me tell you about this amazing website where you can auto-generate artist statements that are, well, very intriguing. You surely will be intrigued by it. It is called, very predictably, www.artybollocks.com. Just by the click of a mouse you can generate bollocks with ease. And yeah, you can also check out this blog which has ready-made artist statements, which are convoluted enough for everyone: isabel.kim/infiniteartwork. Isabel Kim’s minimalist approach was really good for my innermost soul.

Now that my statement is done, we can all go back to walking the talk. And walking the talk between the silences in the spaces that counteracts with the silences within the silences.

Thank you!