Art in the 21st century is seldom what it appears on the surface. The artist expects that the viewer comes to the work with his or her individual and unique complexities and then peels away the layers of the work to complete its meaning. Much of this work suggests that interaction by offering up imagery or information that can literally be “read’ by the viewer.
As philosopher Jacques Derrida stated, “there is nothing outside of the text.” Since even an image presents the expectation that it should be “read” by the viewer, these works employ text as the image. The two are inseparable. The layers that create—or perhaps complicate—the “image” are mined from the multifaceted experiences of the artist, but are also met with the parallel multifaceted experiences brought by each viewer.
The sedimentary layers that compose the histories of both artist and viewer are mirrored in the format of the palimpsest within many of the works. Traditionally, the palimpsest was a parchment from which the primary layer of text was scraped—leaving a perceptible residue of that text—then covered with a new text layer. Both layers coexist within the same parchment and the history of the entire document is seen through those dueling layers.
These works are similar palimpsests. The images may obscure an under layer of text or may be formed by the multiplying of various layers of text. The fullness of the works, however, cannot be understood without the residue of layers bubbling up to the surface. These texts, along with other “texts” (i.e. the substrate of vintage clothing or fabrics, or the assemblage objects that also compose certain works), further expand the density of meaning. The “reading” of the elements of the works, thus, reveals nuanced understanding of the aims of the artist as well as the competing “texts” that make each individual viewer a unique being.
A downloadable PDF version of this artist statement is available.
For more in depth examinations of specific works and series by Mr. Clutter refer to the blog