Today I came across these:
I get sent a vast amount of press material each day, almost all of which employs a strikingly similar tone of voice. Most common is the one of academic solemnity infused with a barely veiled aggression, as though art were engaged in some cultural ‘war on terror’. Words such as ‘forcing’, ‘interrogating’ or ‘subverting’ occur with incredible frequency. Boundaries are ‘broken down’ and ‘preconceptions challenged’ so often as to make subversion and radicality seem like a mandatory daily chore rather than a blow to the status quo. They perpetuate old-fashioned notions, such as that of the artist visionary liberating the masses from mental enslavement by bourgeois values. Overuse has made these words sounds strangely toothless, for what’s at stake in the art is often less important (but not necessarily without value) than the language suggests.
The seductionsof jargon affect artistic production. A word you hear many artists use today when describing what they do is ‘practice’ (or ‘praxis’ – urrgh!), much as you might describe an architectural or doctor’s practice. Occassionally prefaced with the phrase ‘research-based’, the word has faintly scientific, academic and conventional ‘professional’ overtones, suggesting fixed methodologies with quantifiable outcomes. Perhaps originating in the 1970s’ Conceptual artist, it speaks of the rationalist flipside to the old-fashioned model of artist-as-licenced-transgressor, positioning the artist alongside applied artists, philosopher, sociologists or community workers.
Quotes from ‘A Serious Business’ by Dan Fox
in Frieze 121, March 2009, pp. 108-113
I think I use this sort of language all the time! It was sort of mandatory at art school, and it's also influenced by the type of governemtal rhetoric that you have to employ when writing an arts council proposal. Justificatory, quantifiable, methodical... all the things making art is rarely about, at least in my experience. How about, vague ideas, moments of clarity quickly fading, unhealthy obsession with detail, fear, panic, mistakes, something seeeming to go well and then completely fucking you, mad rushes toward deadlines, never getting as far as you'd like, tears of frustration, recrimination, embarrassment, or at least that slight feeling of shame when suddenly all these people are looking at somethign you've made, reading stuff, looking at pictures, going for walks, getting headaches from paint fumes, dust and 12 hours of sitting under striplights, getting drunk, getting up late, not getting much done, looking at the same thing over and over again trying to see it in a different light, trying to see the problems, the potential solutions, then becoming blind to it all, anything could mean anything, I've been on my own for too long, I need to get out of here. I've gone strange.