Artists statements usually give gallery attendees an idea of where an artist was coming from when he or she was creating the work displayed. They can be insightful, confusing, and even an interesting combination of both. A new exhibition in Seminole Heights aims to use technology and human creativity to turn the notion of artist statements — which can be overly cerebral and jargon-filled — upside down.
Machine in the Ghost — opening Oct. 3 at the non-profit Kirk Ke Wang Art Space at 5120 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa — used online software to create random artist statements and handed them to six Florida-based artists who created pieces interpreting the statements.
"I don't think most artists are hiding anything behind the typical convoluted artist statement. Most likely most feel it's a necessary aspect of modern exhibiting," Danny Olda wrote in a message to CL. "I think it's really an expectation of the viewing public that's developed over the last several decades - people who would've been considered craftsmen in past centuries are now expected to be artist-philosophers."
Olda, 31, is editor of Pinellas-based blog Articulate and is curating the group exhibition. He hopes "Machine in the Ghost" will be more of a conversation about, and an experiment with, the relationship between art and the theory behind it.
The artists — Nathalie Chikhi, Michael Covello, Shawn Pettersen, Selina Román, Eileen Isagon Skyers, and Mikaela Raquel Williams — certainly had a tough task in front of them.
"I spent the first couple of weeks agonizing over every word in the statement," Selina Roman told CL, "working backwards from a computer-generated artist statement has been difficult, wait, more like mind-numbing."
Selina's piece, "In Love and Papers," (pictured above) revolves around key words in her assigned statement ("relationships," "repetitive," "inaccuracies"). The 36-year-old once lived in Miami, and she used lingering images of immigration and visa interviews as inspiration.
"The idea that a couple must prove their relationship to a third party intrigued me. How do you prove love?," she wrote. "Through photographs that document a couple's relationship - trips, holidays, the wedding. Couples become curators, and the private becomes document."
The exhibit opens on Friday Oct. 3, with a reception from 6-10 p.m. They'll hold a panel discussion the next day at 7 p.m., and Kirk Ke Wang Art Space is located at 5120 N. Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights. More information is available here.