About a year ago I made an exhibition with some of my photography called “Pictures”. For that exhibition I wrote a small accompanying text in Spanish. Here it goes:
Someone once said that judgement ought to be always positioned well above a piece of work for it to be truly good. Yet again, this judgement doesn’t mean adding futilities to what is, ultimately, a picture. It matters perhaps in the moment of its creation, for the author, not in its displaying for the viewer.
The pictures that form this exhibition don’t share a properly delineated theme. They may hold their own, or not, by themselves, yet there is no message a priori to bond or shield them.
Even though an image suggests and conveys endless thoughts, it shouldn’t for that matter declaim them; nor need an orator to guide it. This would make it, at best, infinitely less interesting, and at worst, dangerously deceiving. When art becomes speech, and turns its eyes upon itself, then it becomes art for the sake of art. Something it never was, nor intended to be.
The text as a simultaneous offering to the work is already excessive. Even superfluous. It’s about another reflection, another medium, for some other moment. Its inclusion risks having none: nor reflection, nor exhibition. In this regard, when the concern is contemplating the work, like every text that’s created specifically for an exhibition, it shouldn’t deserve too much attention. Only enough. And from a distance.
We live in a peculiar moment of the arts, one that has been developing since the late eighteenth century, one that bonds discourse with the aesthetic act of creating art, in one keen combination. During the avant-garde the work of art became in itself a manifest of what art should be. Art was starting to be self-conscious and concerned about its own nature.
Now, a century after those practices, the art world finds itself congratulating so called conceptual works that have one distinct quality—so to speak. They are shielded in their duality against most valorizations! When confronted with an aesthetic reprimand they are quick to point that what matters in the work is the message, and if one were to criticize said message on account of its vacuity they would hence reply: “It’s art in the end, not a treatise!”
So the potential lack of aesthetic value is shielded by the fact it carries a “message”, and the potential unsophisticated naivety of said message is shielded by the fact it’s a “plastic” expression and not a thoughtful treatise. What magnificent protection against all possible critic! The result being, that excellence isn’t required because the piece in its ambivalence can be whatever we’d like it to be. And it’d be fine.