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Cliche Interests, An Artistic Statement

story © Michael Betancourt | published June 29, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  


The artist's statement is an exercise focused on a variety of basic ideas, all concerned with the tactical manipulation of their reader's later engagement with the artist's productions. They're about shaping iinterpretations. These statements are an essential part of how an artist creates a context for their work and creates a meaningful relationship to work of the past. These statements are part PR and part polemics. Producing a statement to accompany individual works is an essential part of the exhibition process. Artists use these statements for several overlapping, but discrete purposes:

  • Context: how they want to be seen in relation to current trends
  • Stage Setting for specific ways they want to be interpreted
  • Distinguish their work from similar or related works
  • Claim a specific history their work might not be related to otherwise
  • The production of ambiguity and the production of meaning are essentially exclusive procedures: to create a meaningful statement requires a discursive structure where ambiguity is radically reduced; in contrast, while definite meaning emerges from limitations upon ambiguity, the meaningful statements of art are (paradoxically) those where the ambiguity (or, more accurately, multivalence) plays the strongest role. It is through the production of multivalent formsworks where several potential meanings simultaneously emerge in a work, sometimes at differing levels of interpretationwhere ambuiguity enables an instability of interpretation that require more careful consideration and demand critical insight for their coherence.

    So, here are some cliches arrayed via collage, to provide not so much a statement about my work as an anti-statement by example:

    "I am intrigued by the dialogical relationship between phantasmagoric narratives of identity, mortality, loss and love in a continually deferred relationship of elegiacal and haunting liminal space: the affective dimension of specialization and ambiguity that in its final iteration, the multi-channel sound and video installation seeks to problematize an itinerant practice of rupture or suture as an unsettling dance of seduction, power, trust, tenderness, loss, and betrayal subverting the traditional subject/object collaborative duo/relationship of obsolescence and futurism in the on-going interplay between a post-Fordist/post-Marxist physical site and the displacement of re-purposed materials (collapsing boundaries between performance, sculpture, architecture, and documentation using hybrids like informance, social gaming, and wearable media), the performative dimension of language comparatively restrained, but no less powerfully seeks to negotiate the tension between the traces of a multilayered deviant digital globalization (evidenced in a preoccupation with haunted spaces, aporia, and liminality) via temporal/spatial dynamics where emotions are clad in artifice and imaginationa hybrid unsettling dance of seduction, power, trust, tenderness, loss, and betrayal via acts of estrangement, reversal, and fragmentation on-screen employing and actualized through glitch technologies of debasement and systemic violation-collapse."

    This collection of buzz-words and over-used rhetorical claims are self important sounding, designed to impress without actually saying much or illuminating the contents of the work; no artist statement is a neutral or minor part of the work; it is essential to the presentation of works to an audience, making claims about those works significance, if not their understanding. These statements can be deceptively simple, but actually contain a range of posturing and claims about the work they describe. That restriction means the artist's statement should always be approached with caution.

    With theoretical-critical work, such as my own, the issue is compounded by the range and scope of writings superficially not engaged or produced as "artist's statements" (such as this one) that have discursive and critical foci, rather than an elaboration of apparently subjective claims about how to approach the work. The range of interests discussed in these works should always be related back to the art produced; they are simply more complex statements about interests and interpretations, indirect, rather than explicit. The clues they contain require an engagement by their audience to make them cohere: the ambiguity and ambivalance of these writings lies with their relationship to the art.


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