Artists’ statements – do you ever believe them?
Does the ‘Artists’s Statement’ have to be nonsense?
Every so often I’m ‘required’ to provide something called an ‘Artist’s Statement‘ to go with some of my photographs.
It’s something that I can find more difficult than taking the pictures in the first place
I was told I needed to explain my concepts…
My assumption has always been that these were things you need for essays on photography courses and dealing with some art directors?
I even tried looking at some exhibition programmes to see what other people were writing – Oh dear.
Recently I asked on several on-line photography groups, just how many photographers actually believed this sort of stuff, wondering if I’m missing something? Fortunately it seems that many photographers feel the same way as I do ;-)
That said, you can still find pretentious tosh (IMHO) like this:
“…His mesmerising work peels back layers of complex socio-political issues that are embedded in each and every of us: taboos, prejudgements and bigotry which are rooted in an intricate blend of collective, political, religious and cultural codes.”
It’s from the main LinkedIn description of someone who says they are a pro photographer (there’s more in a similar vein)
I can remember reading someone’s essay that referenced one of my photos, and wondering if it was actually myself who had taken it. The burnt tree below, seemingly encompasses the eternal interplay of primordial elements or some such.
Actually at 9000 feet on a cold snowy day on Mesa Verde (Colorado), with big storms whizzing about the sky, it’s one of those times when an object (the burnt tree) just fits in with the whole scene. I’d walked several hundred yards up a hill and realised that I should have put a coat on – I was absolutely freezing and remembering that I normally live at sea level and 9000 feet is more than enough to notice the altitude.
I like the sunset picture and colours at the top of the page – obviously it reminds me of a time and place. I make no claims to it being a great work. I know several people who have prints. I don’t know where it makes them think about, or what, it’s ‘just’ a photo that a lot of people find pleasant – if that’s a problem for you, then I’d suggest getting out more ;-)
One of the reasons I find it difficult to write about such things, is that many of my best photos have had very little direct thought or planning gone into them.
They are spontaneous evocations of my feelings at the moment of capture – or as I’d prefer to say… I looked round and thought – “Ooh, that will make a nice print”. My landscape work is not laboured, it’s not meticulously planned – I rarely have a tripod with me, it’s about the moment.
I’ve written a much longer article about the story behind the making of one of my favourite prints ‘Hood Canal’
Reluctantly, I just supposed that this use of longer words was just part of the ‘art business’ that I’d have to learn.
It seems that I can now do it in small amounts…
…I’ve found it helps to regard it as writing marketing copy ;-)
If it’s a straight bio that’s required then that’s no problem, I’ve plenty of things I can include, but when it comes to all that motivation, concepts and message stuff, I’m a bit lost…
My bio on this site was originally written by a friend of mine – I’d really recommend getting someone you know well to help put together something like this. Hearing it from someone else can help get round that slight discomfort that many artistic people feel in saying that their stuff is actually worth looking at.
Now to go back to yesterday’s photos of new windows installed in a house, that I was processing for a commercial client…
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