Artists’ statements

Exercise 5.7 Prepare your artist’s statement

An artist’s statement is sometimes referred to as a ‘statement of intent’. It can be seen as a marketing device, or simply as a means of describing practitioners’ interests. They:

  • vary in terms of their length and the details they cover.
  • may relate to a specific body of work or it may talk about practice more generally. probably contains information about any training (art college or other qualifications or experience relevant to their practice) and prizes, grants or awards that the artist has won, which are relevant to their practice. But is not the same thing as an artist’s CV, which lists any training, qualifications, awards, exhibitions and publications in much the same way as a conventional résumé.
  • huge variety in the style and format of artists’ statements; some will sound convoluted and esoteric and others will be more down to earth.

The Artist Statement (UCA)

A good artist statement will support your professional practice, for example:

  • Giving brief information to support an exhibition or catalogue
  • Submitting a proposal
  • Applying for a grant

It should be:

  • Concise
  • Effective in communicating the details you wish to emphasize
  • Written in the first person
  • Written primarily in the present tense

It should be adaptable in order to take into account:

  • Your audience
  • Your purpose or motivation for writing it

It might contain information on:

What your motivation is for the work you do:

  • What issues are you exploring and why?
  • What concepts, themes or convictions underpin your work?
  • How do your life experiences influence your work
  • How does your personality influence your work?
  • How have your ideas developed?

The techniques and materials you use:

  •  How and why did you choose them?
  • What scale do you work in?
  • Do you have a particular process of working?
  • Do you intend to explore other techniques or materials?

Your background:

  • Are you a student or a practicing artist?
  • Details of your educational history if you feel it appropriate
  • Have you contributed to any prestigious shows or events?

How you contextualise your work:

  • Where do you feel you fit into the Contemporary Art World?
  • Does your work challenge the work of others?
  • Have you appropriated or referred to the work of others?
  • Your goals and aspirations and to what extent you have realised them
  • Personal reflections on your work

Examples from coursebook

On the front page of Alec Soth’s website he writes:

“My name is Alec Soth (rhymes with ‘both’). I live in Minnesota. I like to
take pictures and make books. I also have a business called Little Brown
Mushroom.” (http://alecsoth.com/photography)

This is clearly very understated, perhaps even flippant, and it takes a reputation that precedes oneself to be able to write something as laconic as this! Often, an artist’s statement is written by another person (or is designed to sound as if it is by being written in the third person), which adds gravitas.

Jorma Puranen’s introduction to Imaginary Homecoming is somewhat more convoluted,
although it provides a thoughtful definition of landscape:

“A landscape is speechless. Day by day, its only idiom is the sensory
experience afforded by the biological reality, the weather conditions, and
the actions that take place in the environment. However, we can also
assume that a landscape has another dimension: the potential but invisible
field of possibilities nourished by everyday perceptions, lived experiences,
different histories, narratives and fantasies. In fact, any understanding of
landscape entails a succession of distinct moments and different points
of view. The layeredness of landscape, in other words, forms part of our
own projection. Every landscape is also a mental landscape.” (Jorma Puranen,1999, Foreword to Imaginary Homecoming, Oulu: Pohjoinen)

This statement about the work of Ola Kolehmainen is a good example of how a method of
presentation is linked to the concept of the work:

What are Artist’s Statements?

An artist’s statement is sometimes referred to as a ‘statement of intent’. It can be seen as a marketing device, or simply as a means of describing practitioners’ interests. They:

  • vary in terms of their length and the details they cover.
  • may relate to a specific body of work or it may talk about practice more generally. probably contains information about any training (art college or other qualifications or experience relevant to their practice) and prizes, grants or awards that the artist has won, which are relevant to their practice. But is not the same thing as an artist’s CV, which lists any training, qualifications, awards, exhibitions and publications in much the same way as a conventional résumé.
  • huge variety in the style and format of artists’ statements; some will sound convoluted and esoteric and others will be more down to earth.

The Artist Statement (UCA)

A good artist statement will support your professional practice, for example:

  • Giving brief information to support an exhibition or catalogue
  • Submitting a proposal
  • Applying for a grant

It should be:

  • Concise
  • Effective in communicating the details you wish to emphasize
  • Written in the first person
  • Written primarily in the present tense

It should be adaptable in order to take into account:

  • Your audience
  • Your purpose or motivation for writing it

It might contain information on:

What your motivation is for the work you do:

  • What issues are you exploring and why?
  • What concepts, themes or convictions underpin your work?
  • How do your life experiences influence your work
  • How does your personality influence your work?
  • How have your ideas developed?

The techniques and materials you use:

  •  How and why did you choose them?
  • What scale do you work in?
  • Do you have a particular process of working?
  • Do you intend to explore other techniques or materials?

Your background:

  • Are you a student or a practicing artist?
  • Details of your educational history if you feel it appropriate
  • Have you contributed to any prestigious shows or events?

How you contextualise your work:

  • Where do you feel you fit into the Contemporary Art World?
  • Does your work challenge the work of others?
  • Have you appropriated or referred to the work of others?
  • Your goals and aspirations and to what extent you have realised them
  • Personal reflections on your work

Artists statements from other photographers

Many photographers do not have artists’ statements on websites. They have a fairly straight biography, then either let the images speak for themselves, or put short text for each series of images and/or include interviews and articles where they talk about their aims and methods in some depth.

Michael Tsegaye: – has a very short and succinct artist’s statement. Then informative overviews of his different portfolios. See post: Michael Tsegaye rough notes

Nii Obodai – a biography and ‘meaning’ statement. All in the third person – I think this makes things less direct and more flowery. See post: Nii Obodai rough notes

Mathua Mateka – quite a long artists’ statement with a lot of personal information that may or may not be relevant to understanding his photography. See post: Mathua Mateka rough notes.

Emeka Okerere – another long one in third person. See post: Emeka Okerere rough notes.

Paul Shambroom : very short, in 3rd person and mostly about his achievements rather than what he is trying to do. More of a biography.

Alec Soth – example of understatement (in the knowledge that he is already famous!) Nothing about his approach or underlying aims.

Jorma Puranen’s introduction to Imaginary Homecoming  cited in the coursebook is no longer at the link given. The definition of landscape:

“A landscape is speechless. Day by day, its only idiom is the sensory
experience afforded by the biological reality, the weather conditions, and the actions that take place in the environment. However, we can also assume that a landscape has another dimension: the potential but invisible field of possibilities nourished by everyday perceptions, lived experiences, different histories, narratives and fantasies. In fact, any understanding of landscape entails a succession of distinct moments and different points of view. The layeredness of landscape, in other words, forms part of our own projection. Every landscape is also a mental landscape.” (Jorma Puranen,1999, Foreword to Imaginary Homecoming, Oulu: Pohjoinen)

 

5.6 My Own Artist’s Statement

Mathua Mateka Rough Notes

Website   much too flashy. One very large image that takes ages to load, even on my fast connection, never mind slow ones in Africa. Rolling slideshows etc down right hand side lead to very slow loading large images. Seems to be trying to use the most jazzy tools for photo galleries. But very confusing and doesn’t really work.

Entry screen is Maasai ?girl with nipple half exposed. Is this a tongue-in cheek parody of African exoticism or just cheesy??

Confusing icons like the power button to get to the main menu.

Landscape not very original.

Instagram showcase  some possibly interesting ‘over-the-top digitally-manipulated colour’ images for advertising.

I am a city-changer

General impression he is rather full of himself.

Artist Statement

I – Mutua Matheka – am an artist born and bred in Machakos and fine-tuned by Nairobi. I draw, sketch, mold stuff, destroy stuff & occasionally create stuff… I have been drawing and sketching since my mother placed crayons in my hands at just 3 years of age. The art has since then morphed from Drawing, Illustration, Graphic art, Architectural Visualization to Photography, my latest obsession. When I’m not meeting a deadline or sharpening crayons, I love to get my adrenaline pounding by riding motorbikes, mountain climbing, and (if I got a chance) para-troop and ski.

I am a graduate Architect from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (J.K.U.A.T), now fully applying my architectural eye to capture Architecture, cityscapes & landscapes. I love photography and I hope you can see that love by looking through my images.

I credit my creativity to The Creator who is the number one creative in my books, and my mom for the 3yr old crayon awakening. Also, I’m happily married to a beautiful woman who also doubles as a personal model.

Together with David ‘Blackman’ Muthami and the UN Habitat, we are using my photography of urban spaces in Africa to showcase a beautiful Nairobi and eventually Africa. Through the ‘I’m a City Changer‘ campaign, we seek to change mindsets of people in cities especially in Africa about their cities. Take a look at the ‘I’m A City Changer‘ page on my website to see the images that people all over the world are sharing to show why they love their cities. To this effect we held the first photography showcase for ‘I’m a City Chager’ in Nairobi that attracted lots of media attention.

I’ve been featured in Nokia’s ‘Teddy Bears & Talking drums’, a documentary (view here), ADA (African Digital Art), Afri-Love (Afri-love.com), BBC News Africa’s In Pictures, Nation Newspaper feature, Kiss 100′s Breakfast show with Caroline Mutoko, Zuqka magazine (Nation newspaper). I have won the pioneer BAKE AWARD for best Photography Blog in Kenya, as well as being nominated for the International CSS DESIGN Award based in the United States, putting both Kenya and Africa on the Map in photography. My photos have been used by BBC MEDIA, KUVAA IN NETHERLANDS, African Digital Art, NTV’s PM LIVE, among other avenues showcasing excellence.

I’ve also had the privilege of working with: Image 360 designs, Iseme, Kamau & Maema Advocates, Symbion Architects, Reata Apartments, Radio Jambo, Kiota Guest house, Exotic Golf Safaris, UP Magazine, Kobo Safaris, and artists like: Blackman, Daddy Owen, Bupe, Anto Neosoul, Neema, Ruth Wamuyu, Kevo Juice, Five.Oh.One, Dj MO, Monique, Ma3 band, Sara Mitaru, among many other amazing people.

You can connect with me through any of the avenues listed below:

To contact me on any general thing please email [info at mutuamatheka.co.ke]

For information about my prints or to purchase any of my images kindly email [sales at mutuamatheka.co.ke]

Dillon Marsh Rough Notes

South Africa landscape website

Themed series of mostly fairly muted colour images of diamond and copper mines, pathways and trees in landscape.

Biography:

I was born in Cape Town in 1981 and I continue to live there today. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from the University of Stellenbosch and during the course of my studies I was drawn to photography and I have remained passionate about it ever since.

Solo Exhibitions:

2012 – Landmarks I, Blank Projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2011 – Lay of the Land, AVA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2014 – Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America, Saatchi Gallery, London, England
2013 – Present Tense, Next Future, Lisbon, Portugal and Paris, France
2013 – POPCAP’13, Piclet.org, Basel, Switzerland, Dublin, Ireland and Lagos, Nigeria
2013 – ExtraOrdinary, Noorderlicht, Drenthe, Netherlands
2013 – The Benediction of Shade, David Krut Projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2012 – Material / Representation, Brundyn + Gonsalves, Cape Town, South Africa
2012 – Landscape Re-Orientation, David Krut Projects, Cape Town, South Africa
2011 – A Natural Selection: 1991 – 2011, AVA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2011 – e-SCAPES, Workshop Gallery, Parkwood, Johannesburg, South Africa
2010 – Spier Contemporary, City Hall, Cape Town, South Africa
2008 – Sasol New Signatures, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, South Africa

Emeka Okerere Rough Notes

Nigeria  website

Much more voyeuristic and less engaged than eg Michael Tsegaye. Performance photography,

Artist’s statement

Emeka Okereke born in 1980 is a Nigerian photographer who lives and works between Africa and Europe, moving from one to the other on a frequent basis. He came in contact with photography in 2001. He is a member of Depth of Field (DOF) collective, a group made up of six Nigerian photographers.

Presently, his works oscillate between diverse mediums. He uses photography, poetry, video and collaborative projects to address issues pertinent to his convictions. His works deal mainly with the questions of co-existence (beyond the limitations of predefined spaces), otherness and self-discovery. Often times they are subtle references to the socio-political issues of our times.

Another aspect of his practise lies in project organising which artistic interventions to promote exchanges cutting across indigenous and international platforms.

To this effect he organized the first ever photographic exchange projects between a school in France and one in Nigeria involving the Fine Art School of Paris and Yaba College of Arts and Technology Lagos. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of “Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Project” an annual photographic project which assembles up to ten artists from Africa towards a roadtrip across Africa. There has been three editions of the project since 2009. Through Emeka Okereke Photography & Projects, he co-ordinates projects based on exchanges. The most recent of these projects include: Crossing Compasses, Lagos-Berlin Photo Exchange (May – June 2012) and Converging Visions: Nigeria – Netherlands Photo Exchange (June – September 2012)

In 2003, he won the Best Young Photographer award from the AFAA “Afrique en Création” in the 5thedition of the Bamako Photo Festival of photography. He has a Bachelors/Masters degree from the National Fine Art School of Paris and has exhibited in biennales and art festivals in different cities of the world, notably Lagos, Bamako, Cape Town, London, Berlin, Bayreuth, Frankfurt, Nurnberg, Brussels, Johannesburg, New York, Washington, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid, Paris, etc. He has also won several awards both in Nigeria and Internationally.

Invisible borders: Trans-African Photography Project

In 2009, I founded a project which every year unites up to ten African artists – photographers, writers, film makers and art historians on a road trip across Africa in a bid to reflect on exchanges across geographical borders. The core concept of this project is deeply rooted in the philosophy of movement and the ardent need to transcend inflicted limitations, by creating a crossbreed of realities which in turn offers the possibility of an extension of oneself beyond predefinitions.

There has been four editions of the road trip project with journeys to Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia and Gabon – always departing from Lagos Nigeria.  I have taken part and coordinated all  four editions, travelling across over 15 countries in the process.

During the trips, my works consisted of images, writings and films which looks at the intricate interactions between people and their spaces as experienced in the Africa of today – that friction between people and space in the quest for existence and co-existence. Furthermore, these works testify to an Africa at the brink of a turning point, that point where the new is struggling its way out of the old…and we are the signs as well as symptoms.

Sao Tome

It is a small Island with only 180,000 inhabitants. Everything man-made seems to be engulfed by the freshness of nature. There are more trees and forests than people and due to this, the people have a unique relationship with nature. Food is abundant because the land and plants are far from barren. All year round the trees produce all kinds of fruits. It is an Island of immense greens. Where only the thought of the concept of selling “bio” foods at acutely exorbitant prices becomes immediately ridiculous.

In the way of material acquisition, we do not see much. The cityscape is plagued with old dilapidated building of obviously Portuguese architecture. One could tell that much has not been done in terms of an independent advancement since its independence from Portugal in 1975.

The buildings are chipping away with every passage of time, with no scheme towards preservation talk more of restoration – they just stand there obtrusively like phantoms of a colonial past, creating a picture of people meandering through “beautiful” shacks and rubbles. But all of this is perfectly cocooned every inch of the way, by the freshness and liveliness of the many plants.

Rituals Lagos 2001-2003

This project was one of the first body of works produced at the earlier stages of my carrer. It explores the relationship between body and light. These works won the Afrique en Creation Price at the 2003 Bamako festival of Photography.