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Long-time readers of this column will know that over the years I have spent — and arguably wasted — a fair bit of energy griping about artists’ statements. From choreographers writing about the concept behind a dance piece to musicians describing a new album, there is often a feeling of bathos; the art work may be brilliant but the words fall short. Perhaps this is inevitable when one is striving to capture the ineffable.
At their best, however, artists speaking or writing about their own work can achieve something astonishing. They can gently guide us in our encounter with their creations, plant a few seeds, without overdetermining our experience or delimiting our interpretation. Sometimes we just need a bit of context or a nudge in the right direction.