Curatorial Statement by Cara Ober
It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. – Mark Twain
Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.
– Woody Allen
The realities of life are never neat and tidy. Truth is always stranger than fiction. More often than not, life is unfair, illogical, counter-intuitive, and downright ridiculous.
Civilization is man’s attempt to rein in the chaos of the universe, to make the unsafe safe, and to provide the illusion of certainty. Society teaches individuals to live their lives clinging to rules and order so that people feel secure. That, and pay their credit card bills.
Lucky for all of us, artists exist to question this whitewashed version of the world, and provide contradictory evidence that life is rich with mysterious and unknowable truths.
While some artists have pursued idealistic and simplistic visions of life, catering to societal influence, the real artistic visionaries throughout history have been able to connect the light with the dark, to present a complex and ambiguous mirror of the world as it actually is. These artists embrace the unknown and live there – in a state of not knowing – in order to create authentically.
The fruits of this labor can be gorgeous, offensive, silly, and can make little to no sense, even to the artist. From Caravaggio, who painted whores and beggars as biblical heroes to Donald Judd, who’s mirrors in the desert reflect eternal nothingness, the artist’s role has been to raise questions, to create unlikely relationships between disparate elements, and to cultivate a healthy confusion. Paradoxically, it is only in this confused state that we are truly alive: experiencing the world without preconceived notions, understanding the everyday as it actually is, rather than what is taught.
Arbitrary Specifics is an exhibit that celebrates the artist’s ability to tweak, tickle, and twist reality into unfamiliar and uncommon terms. Many of the works in this exhibit appear to be paradoxical, silly, arbitrary, and illogical. All of the artists chosen for this show exhibit an open and playful attitude towards their work: their willingness to accept the unknowable elements within themselves allows them to create works that address important issues, namely, the meaning of life, with a clarity that is refreshing.
Rather than a simplistic, logical vision, the artists in Arbitrary Specifics present a reality, which balances the known and the unknown, the absurd and the banal, the everyday and the magical. Paradoxically, these artists create visual realities, which more accurately mirror real life, replete with synchronicity, déjà vu, and parking tickets, than life itself.