Reactor

The Best Artist Statement Generator I’ve Seen Yet

by Jillian Steinhauer on January 16, 2013

Hand-crank

(image via Gempler’s)

There have been artist statement generators before, and there will be more to come. In the meantime, however, I’ve found my favorite artist statement generator of all: 500 Letters.

Created by Belgian artist Jasper Rigole, who’s part of the art group Voorkamer, 500 Letters is fairly amazing at what it does. This may be due to some combination of its programming and comprehensiveness. Users fill out a form that asks you to not only give your date and city of birth, but also choose your primary and secondary media, as well as the three main themes of your art. The media list includes “Conceptual” and “I work in a variety of media,” while the themes list offers “Confusion,” “Semiotics,” and “Utopia,” among many others.

The name “500 Letters” comes from Rigole’s letter introducing the generator, addressed to an unknown curator. “Previously, you asked me if I could send you an artist biography of 100 words or 500 letters as quickly as possible,” he writes. “Unfortunately I did not succeed at this task, as 100 words seem too concise to describe my work and really would be limiting to the complexity of my artistic practice. Therefore, 500 letters seems to me the best idea. But, since this will take much more time than currently available, I’m forced to ask for a postponement.”

The end result, as you can foresee, is the statement generator, which he employs to write his own biography and offers up to others to  use as they please. And use it, you should. Here are some highlights from an absurdly convincing statement I generated for myself:

By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, Steinhauer often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.

Her artworks demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, she focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting.

Her works are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

If that doesn’t sound like International Art English, I don’t know what does.

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  • http://www.artatbay.com/ Danny Olda

    It would be interesting to make some work based on a generated statement instead of the other way around. Anyhow, great generator.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      I love this idea.

      • http://bespangled.tumblr.com Janelle

        I did see a show in Berlin 2 years ago where the artist created a statement/press release based on past statements from the gallery he was showing at. It was pretty fantastic. I’ll have to see if I can go dig it up.

        • Jillian Steinhauer

          If you do, let me know!

    • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

      Oh no. I think I did that to some degree after my first artist statement written as an assignment for a “contemporary issues” class. It just sounded so much better than what I was actually doing.

      • http://www.artatbay.com/ Danny Olda

        You could just tack up the statement and make it conceptual. It would be as good as it is. Or maybe its just time for an art generator.

        • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

          maker bots are pretty cool. Could we hook this program up to one of them?

  • LynetteB

    This is hysterical. Love it! The first show I ever ‘curated’ for my org (all of us uneducated and anti-intellectual artistic neophytes) consisted of a lot of low-brow underground comix & activist-oriented small press; the director of the larger festival org hosting the exhibit wanted an artistic statement but I really wasn’t capable of giving him one (to me, the medium was and remains pretty self-explanatory, and I thought it was ridiculous to try and bullshit my way through something so obvious). My artistic statement ended up in the form of a small zine mocking the other ‘profoundly unintelligible’ artistic statements I was seeing at the time, including using frames from Dan Clowes’ “Art School Confidential” comic, to try and get my (inarticulate) point across. Sixteen years later I have a much better appreciation for (‘authentic’ & legible) artistic statements, but I still can’t write one to save my life. I might actually use my generated one just to get a laugh (and which I have little doubt will ‘impress’ those who still don’t give us the time of day!). hahaha

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      Any artist statement that includes frames from Dan Clowes is a total win to me.

  • Den Hickey

    Nice, but as you point out.. its been done. I would be more interested in some articles about artist statements that are not simply comedic but also possibly helpful.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      Helpful in what way?

      • Den Hickey

        Take your pick.

      • Den Hickey

        I can get a link and a blurb about the newest art world techno chewtoy just about anywhere. Why should I be getting it HERE? Outside of snark what does this contribute to discussion about artist statements as well as the content… intended or unintended of art…. both the art we see and the art we make?

        • Jillian Steinhauer

          First off, you’re reading snark where there isn’t any—I am quite earnestly in love with this thing; it’s amazing. Second of all, Hyperallergic is about being both serious and playful. This falls into the second category. Third, I’m not sure what discussion you want to have about artist statements. That’s what I was getting at in my comment/question—what would be helpful to write about artist statements? What do you want to talk about? I’m asking because I want to know.

        • http://www.facebook.com/pancho.panoptes Pancho Panoptes

          Sure, the article does lean towards the playful side of this story. But a more serious discussion could certainly happen here. We can talk, for instance, about the challenge this techno chewtoy poses on artistic integrity and creativity:

          Where is an artist’s originality if a logarithm is able to (rather accurately) predict their thought process based primarily on their subject matter and medium?
          Have artists become so predictable?

          Or we can talk about the relationship between language and creativity. For instance, the way “art-speak” (force-fed across art schools in America) affects the creative power of young minds. Some art students might find its terminology helpful in defining their endeavors, while others (the majority, I’d argue) will feel alienated from their own work.

          And then we can follow this up by talking about much what we read about a thing influences our perception of that thing.

          Take your pick Den.

  • Joshua Tree Services

    J.T.S. Artist Statement

    Through my work I attempt to examine the phenomenon of the Great Ak as a methaphorical interpretation of both Andy Goldsworthy and rejuvenation.

    What began as a personal journey of Flippinism has translated into images of soup and faces that resonate with David Bowie people to question their own technicolorness.

    My mixed media grey embody an idiosyncratic view of Henry David Thoreau, yet the familiar imagery allows for a connection between John Lennon, Rabbits and Acorns.

    My work is in the private collection of Ted Lange who said ‘Oh Snap!, that’s some real liquid Art.’

    I am a recipient of a grant from Folsom Prison where I served time for stealing mugs and tie clips from the gift shop of The Cleveland Art Museum. I have exhibited in group shows at TGI Fridays and Spoke Art, though not at the same time. I currently spend my time between my Wunderkammer and Berlin.

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