Take the C-Monster artspeak quiz!

Testing, testing. (Photo by extraface.)

Do you problematize? Are you the kinda person who likes to invert the paradigm? Do you use the word “protean” while ordering lunch? Then you are familiar with the foreign language known as artspeak. But how familiar are you? Test the depth of your knowledge of this incomprehensible tribal tongue with the handy quiz that follows the jump. All you have to do to prove you’re a pro is to correctly match the art to the artspeak.

If you’d like, post your guesses in the comments section. We will send anyone who scores 100% our deepest condolences. Good luck. And no cheating. Correct answers will be posted next week.

Below, find five works of art. Match them to the five bits of text at bottom. All quotes and images have been pulled from press/web materials issued by the artists’ galleries.

Tree of Winter Dew by Rebecca Horn
1. Tree of Winter Dew, 2008 by Rebecca Horn.

Untitled (Mustang), 2008 by Josephine Meckseper
2. Untitled (Mustang), 2008 by Josephine Meckseper.

Dislocation III by Gregory Chatonsky
3. Dislocation III, 2008 by Grégory Chatonsky.

Untitled 2008 by Danielle Van Ark
4. Untitled, 2008 by Danielle Van Ark.

Todd Norsten
5. JFK by Todd Norsten.

* * *


a. “The humble origins of [the artist's] subjects are employed to investigate the esoteric tenets of modernist [art]; and one prevents the other from becoming formally over determined, or too shrill in its cultural observance.”

b. “These important new [works], the scale of which are determined by the extent of the artist’s physical reach, evoke personal, metaphorical, and metaphysical influences orchestrated through dynamic gesture.”

c. “By taking a position of absolutes, namely cosmological embeddedness and the influence of nature on human life and society, this exhibit goes against the relativist grain.”

d. “Functioning as literal and metaphorical armatures for an interrogation into the failed ‘shock and awe’ phenomenon of a war that has resulted in the death of 4000 service members in Iraq and a crucial election in which one candidate has declared the possibility of occupation continuing in that country for ’100 years,’ the installation refers to Giorgio Agamben’s concept of ‘the state of exception,’ which allows for monstrosities such as Guantanamo Bay and Blackwater to occur.”

e. “[The artist's] work is inspired by the increasing aesthetization of the destruction in the mass medias and it questions the relation between a form and a matter.”

Posted by C-Monster.








  1. marksin

    1 – there is no one
    2 – the notion of duality is constructed
    3 – E/C
    4 – all (eliiptic response)
    5 – rizome

  2. Matt

    1. c
    2. a
    3. e
    4. b
    5. d

    Wow. That was impossible. But the bigger question is whether this post is self-reflexive or just merely reflexive?

  3. Lee Kottner

    WTF? I thought litcrit-speak was incomprehensible and obfuscating. Does any of this actually mean something? Or is it an elaborate joke? Hey! Look! the Emperor’s naked!

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  5. Mike M

    1 – b
    2 – e
    3 – c
    4 – a
    5 – d

    some of these actually are not bad texts, but they seem to have nothing to do with their corresponding works of art (or anything visual, for that matter). Why does a work need to be about “cosmological embededness,” when it would engage me more to suggest that the image has certain visual relationships to satellite photographs taken of the surface of the moon, and why that might be something the artist is attempting to explore in a work that also seems to deal with destruction/dislocation of human society.

  6. Oriane

    I go against the relativist grain myself and toward the relativist legume. My literal armature craves the occasional protean enzyme while my metaphorical armature yearns to experience metaphysical influences through dynamic gesture.

    At the risk of becoming formally overdetermined or too shrill in my cultural observance, what’s for dinner?

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  9. hinky

    if your job/life is to be a critic of other peoples’ creativity, it must be a way they to make yourself feel better and somehow superior to the artist. who knows ? i don’t pay too much attention to artspeak. the art either speaks to me or not.

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