March 28, 2015


[Administrator's note: My recent correspondence with artist, Sara Wright, may be of interest to readers of this blog as an enlightening glimpse into my continued critical interaction with a former art theory student. The following emails are presented here in sequential order and unedited.]

March 17, 2015:
I have been working for around a year on some stuff... Here is my artist statement. [Note: Wright's first draft wasn't attached; it's re-printed below after my first reply.] The installation is comprised of Approx 10 pieces. It is small space. Most of the works are in progress as of right now; I find that working by switching gears often is the most productive for myself.

I do not have a website (i know it's awful, but I am really just too busy. I can promise a strong image list and resume). 

I have been working on my statement for quite some time now. I have sent it to folks in my roloddex from differing backgrounds, so naturally I have gotten mixed reviews. 

I am sure that you are busy, but I am hoping to get some feedback from you concerning my statement. I feel like I have finally nailed it down and possibly I need support or direction.

Thank you, good sir. 
Sara Wright 
Hi Sara,
Thx for your email - I think that "contact form" on my web site doesn't allow attachments.

If you had something you wanted me to take a look at pls re-send here.

[Sara's 1st Draft "Artist Statement"]
Octavio Paz pegs Duchamp’s Large Glass as a common vicissitude of love and knowledge in art:

“Duchamp’s work is a variation-yet another one-on a theme that belongs to traditional art and thought of our civilization. It is a twofold theme: love and knowledge. It has a single goal: to penetrate the nature of reality.  It is a variation in meta-ironic mode: love leads us to knowledge, but knowledge is barely a reflection, the shadow of a transparent veil on the transparency of a glass.”

We Did it Wrong explores the nature of interpersonal relationships: the construction, representation, and the perpetuation of the social construct and collective memory that is the “American Dream.” Images are a vehicle, specifically the snapshot and its context in the family album, which simultaneously create an ideal and represent a reality.

This work deals with the idea of love and knowledge. My process is performative in that I make work as a means for catharsis and self-reflection. With this installation I deconstruct to reevaluate my own traditional beliefs concerning love, domesticity, and how I measure success.   
Without seeing “the piece” it’s difficult to get/give a sense of what it represents – thus, my critique:

Starting with a Paz quote on MD’s Large Glass opens a vast chasm of intellectual premise, theory, interpretation & POV on what connections your work will have. The splicing of “American Dream” to love/knowledge perhaps would benefit from a better metaphor than Duchamp’s hypersexual perpetual coitus interruptus. One more thing: hasn’t the “snapshot” been undone by selfies, Instagram, etc?

If you want to represent “the idea of love and knowledge” you’re approaching two huge abstractions, one of which (love) has been deluged with clichéd imagery. As for knowledge, this will prove challenging to reduce to simple presentations. Obviously, juxtaposition will be key.

I also have a problem with the description of your photographic “process” as “performative.” Making photos in & of itself isn’t performance, even if cathartic, unless the “installation” you describe involves you as performer.

Let me know when you have a site up, or can share images.
March 24, 2015

Exactly how frowned upon is it to submit without a substantial website? I intend on having an image list and a rudimentary website by the deadline, but my ideal website just isn't in the cards (considering my photographic archive) for the deadline.

To give you more context: this is a statement for a proposal for a small solo exhibition in a 900 sq ft. space. I will explain the pieces further as they are somewhatl still in progress and i don't have sufficient documentation at this time.

I am creating an accordion book ("PROOF") built with found photographs of the American Snapshot that I incorporated typewritten text expressing doubt, sadness and loss.

I have been collecting eggshells (as a lover once told me he had to walk on them in my presence) and affixing them to raw linen canvas with upholstery studs. This is 48" x 48" and will be a floor piece.

A queen mattress with the words "This is a Canvas" scrawled over it.

The sign (from my senior thesis that wasn't displayed) made from palette wood that lists all of the words hyphenated with "self" in the dictionary.

Appropriated painting of ex, white gessoed  with a faint image that appears under the layer with an oil painting the same size, (displayed on the opposing wall) painted solid black

 Video documentation of performance of cutting wedding dress of off myself with my grandmother's Singer sewing scissors projected onto wedding dress fragments.

Rotary phone, gutted, equipped with an Arduino kit that is tripped by interval timer to ring and when picked up plays "crossed wires' of voyeuristic conversations: i.e, man and woman arguing, dial tone, phone ringing, women gossiping.

Kintsugi/Polterabend: Heirloom, smashed porcelain German made China, pattern name: Antionette. Recreated in a three dimensional mess of a sculpture bastardizing the ancient art of kintsugi.

Thank you so for your highly admired feedback. After a couple days of percolation I was able to muster up another draft and compose this email to you.

I hope you're well. Thank you again for your expertise.

Much adoration,
March 26, 2015
[No salutation.]
Somewhere back in the day, in one of those theory classes that I taught (you took at least one of them) I usually mentioned that the best conceptual art work doesn’t even need to be seen. I'm certain that I used the example of Duchamp's urinal – all I have to do, I said back then, is to describe that MD bought a urinal in a hardware store & entered it as an artwork; everyone “gets it.” The concept itself goes far beyond the object that conveys it – the mere description carries it & yields that all important discursive “how do we define art?” Further investigation of that question revealed that idea about context & it’s bearing on that distinction.

Having said all that, the work that impresses me most is your eggshell piece because its simple description conveys the concept immediately & might provoke discourse on many levels. Because of that power, I wonder why it has to default to a wall-hung object; shouldn’t we hear that sound of eggshells crunching?

The rest:
PROOF – Photo-text is tried-and-true format (V. Burgin, B.Kruger, D. Graham) but without the words I can’t say more than it is “valid.”

"This is a Canvas" seems very Gedi Sibony, or Tracey Emin, to me; its inclusion depends on further development of your “theme.”

“The sign (from my senior thesis that wasn't displayed)” – Liked this when I first saw it & it could “work” with the whole (see above) theme.

“Appropriated painting of ex” – By who? The relation of this to opposite “Black Square” could be vague in less-than-supportive architecture (need short distance separation). Still, seems a bit “heavy-handed” to me.

Video of cutting wedding dress – Absolutely not advised; leave self-pity to Sophie Calle.

Rotary phone – Unless I know what the “argument” is about (content) it seems like a “stand-alone” piece about other ideas, i.e. linguistics, communication, privacy.

Kintsugi/Polterabend – Second best piece; little contemporary use as a form & has strong metaphoric potential re: theme. 

Would you be opposed to me running our correspondence on TheoryNow? I've been posting sporadically (busying myself with music & other projects) & thought this might make an interesting series of posts. You could be an "anonymous former student" if you want or be yourself. Let me know what you think. 

March 28, 2015
[No salutation.]
This email was amazing to receive. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration and guidance of the work I've been doing. 

It would be an honor to be included on your theory now blog. No need to be anonymous. I try to not be anonymous. 

I was thinking it would be interesting to sew the wedding dress fragments back together or to leave them in a pile and have them be a piece without the video. 

The appropriated painting of ex: It was a black and white self portrait that I gessoed over but the layer is just thin enough that you can slightly see through it but his gaze is very strong. He painted it from a portrait I took of him and he looks very angry. I honestly think it can stand alone and I agree that the black would be a filler although it does reference the darkness that was our time together. (Heavy handed) 

The rotary phone came to me because I was taking an online art appreciation class for a friend and a line in the book about a Mary Cassatt painting of a woman at a writing desk struck me. "A large majority of a woman's day was correspondence."
So yes it is certainly about communication. 

Thank you again. My deadline is on Sunday and I doubt I'll make it because I have two big deadlines at work this upcoming week. 

Still trying to not sound like a verbose art snob in my statement. Did I send you the new version? [Sara's Final Version is below.]

"Artist Statement" 
We Did it Wrong consists of ideas that I have grappled with for a few years now. I am working in a variety of mediums to deconstruct in order to to reevaluate the inherited ideals of success in this country. Some of the themes I address are related to femininity, domesticity, traditions and the abstraction that is love and its inherent connection to self-knowledge.   

A friend once told me, rather simply, that I am in love with being in love. Possibly I am conditioned to believe that being loved is bound to personal success and happiness. My conquests and subsequent failures have created skepticism toward such traditional thinking. Through my art practice I have evaluated how an archetype has affected my wellbeing and notion of self worth.

Octavio Paz speculates in his criticism of Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) that a healthy majority of art in our civilization is a quest to better understand love and knowledge, while it is merely a transparent glass reflecting a faint image of self. My work is a questioning of my place within the sphere of my personal relationships and ultimately my desire to create a narrative with another.

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