Book Review: I Write Artist Statements
By Emma Coyle
Liz Sales’ I Write Artist Statement, set to be released in July 2018, references both literary and art trends within her series of fictional artist statements that are reminiscent of flash fiction. Each one reads like a fully developed story, creating an absorptive world and characters that linger in the reader's mind long after the page has been turned.
Sales formats her photographer’s artists statements to evoke both the familiar and the unexpected by creating a window into the way that artists promote themselves and their work. It is a very topical work that balances relevance to auto fiction style literature, seen in works like My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and the type of personal marketing that artists are now required to partake in to ensure that their work is accepted by galleries in the current gig based art system. There is a sense of absurdity in the way that the each photographer is selling the idea of themselves and their work more than the work itself.
Sales has mentioned that her goal was to bring attention to clichés and social issues within the art community without loosing its relatability, and in this she excels. Her characters describe projects that reference stereotypical art concepts, but there is never a moment where it feels like their work is diminished or seen with less affection. Each story is relatable even as it is reflective, capturing personalities and eccentricities with minimal words.
Notable, is the way that at the end of I Write Artist Statements is the author’s own bio which reads like one of the statements she created. It effortlessly blends fiction and reality, making the reader reflect on the nature of personal promotion and the way that people represent themselves or tell their own stories. Sales described her work with artist statements as “[encapsulating] an artist's practice in miniature textual form while pointing to characteristic qualities or features of something much larger, like their community, place, or situation.”
Not only is the novel a remarkable piece of fiction but it also manages to be informative by providing dozens of examples of effective artist statements. Whether an artist reads this book looking for clues to the perfect statement or it is picked up by an avid reader, there is something for everyone. Neither aspect is neglected and only serve to further enhance the experience. Sales’ background in writing for art magazines and creating artist statements for current artists is clearly transferred to this project and helps to inform the styling of the work.