Design Description and Anecdote / by Melany Wimpee

Photo Credit: Holly Mills (because I lost my camera in a park with monkeys)

Photo Credit: Holly Mills (because I lost my camera in a park with monkeys)

Let me introduce and simultaneously reject the concept of “art wank”. This is a commonly used expression to refer to the very serious explanations of art that usually come with an overinflated sense of importance. This is the result of two things. First, people in the art business are pretty passionate and they get very excited by these things. Second, I think it helps sell the work. Whatever the reasons, it creates a disconnection between art and real life.

David Walsh has an amazing/hilarious solution for this at MONA. If you are not familiar, MONA is a privately owned museum in Tasmania that has taken a radically different approach to the art museum experience. (I could write pages on this place but I will leave it for another day) The pieces at MONA have a traditional description, which is not so subtly titled “art wank” with an even less subtle icon of a penis. In addition to this, David – neither artist nor critic – provides his candid comments about the work.

My favourite example of this is for the installation Queen (A Portrait of Madonna), where he comments that he has always hated Madonna and that is why he liked this piece and that he heard the same artist portrayed John Lennon this way and he did not want to see that one. 

I mention this because I will use a similar method to introduce my work. I will use the terms “design description” as a less graphic phrase for art wank and “anecdote” to give a more direct explanation. It is all true, so read whichever you prefer, or just look at the pictures.