Warning/disclaimer: If you are looking for a concise and clear artist statement you will not find it here. While that statement exists, it is reserved for grant/residency opportunities, and moments when I have been compensated appropriately for labor that, in my opinion, is the responsibility of critics, curators, art writers, and PR departments in the educational and exhibition institutions that benefit from my association, and, often, voluntary labor. I am not in the least bit interested in writing or reading these types of boilerplate statements, mine or yours. That said, if we are friends, or you are a student who would like my input, I would be happy to help you with whatever boilerplate you are fabricating: no matter the system (my father was a plumber after all). 

I invent social and physical systems that produce art. At least that's what I've been telling myself lately. It's not set in stone, but for now, I'm glad we're on the same page/scrolling screen.

In the case of my systems, individuals are directly engaged in making the artwork. You might expect I would have to make a big case for these systems or have tiny participants, but to the contrary, it's a common case, but more people fit in than you might expect: kind of like a clown car. Yes, my case is like a circus gag, but in place of Pittsburg Steel, Acme XXXL shoes, and a multiplicity of clowns, my case consists of global contemporary art theory, a local audience, and humor of unknown origins. Funny, right? I know! Art theory is hysterical.

 So how do I fit so many into such a small case? And why would a participant choose to have such a seemingly dense and cramped experience?! Is there a trap door in this case? Is there a trick in this case? Why does it take so many words to explain this case?  The short answers are: Work. Easy. Fun. Metaphorically. Yes. You'll see.

The trick is: only a fraction of the participants involved in my work have a hands-on art making experience. I primarily employ hands-off participation. Conveniently, hands-off participants don't take up room in my case, but like hands-on participants: they do help me state my case. Well, maybe state is too strong a word, it suffers from associations with nation, and while it does take a village, I certainly don't want anyone making a federal case out all of this. I'm not interested in that type of circus. 

The circus I'm interested in doesn't have tent poles and stakes. No hands needed to hammer and hold stakes. My hands-off participants become stakeholders by simply reading these words and seeing the work. Can you feel me? No? Well, at least you see what I'm saying. You see, dear reader, you are bringing my case outside of my small case producing village by allowing me to hitch a ride on your interpretation. Thanks for the ride/attention, or in Information Age parlance: your data (glad we're on the same scroll/page/screen). Your scrolling need not be driven by the same interpretation or data as mine. Actually, I prefer you create your own meaning: it makes me feel more...what's the word? oh yeah.. cosmopolitan. And no pressure, even if you consider this writing nonsense, it's still a win/win, as any interpretation/attention: "good" or "bad," will increase my cases value (more on that below). Thanks for giving me a hands-off hand! I hope someday I can return the favor.

Speaking of speaking/reading favors; in addition to language and thoughts, my artwork consists of drawings, sculptures, photos, and videos. These modes could be considered favors too, but I've found in our present economic system few are willing to accept a favor when there is a physical presence reminding them day in and day out that you owe someone a favor. These objects do, however, make excellent gifts! If you would like to have one, and not want think about future favors, we can exchange pieces of paper with numbers on it. No strings attached. We can also do this paper/number transfer electronically: I have Paypal and Venmo. Although these two methods do have strings, but you already knew that as you have undoubtedly clicked a button that indicated you read the user agreement. 

Speaking of reading, and cliques. If this long winded text strikes you as a user agreement in artist statement drag: good read! You are onto something. I have definitely gotten into another pair of shoes. If you were in my shoes and I was in yours, I would role with it, especially if you plan on pushing the " I agree and accept these terms  " button at the bottom of this page, or the non-contractual act of hanging out with me in any capacity. Full disclosure: I have been known to perform outside of screen and stage occasionally. Actually, that's not true: it's not occasional, it's always. I'm always performing. Every waking moment. Performing a role. Performing a service. Performing favors. We all are for that matter. Speaking of matter (or the lack of it): I also perform in my non-waking moments, but in that case there are too many roles for me to count. What I do account for in my dream life is how many services, and favors I've performed thus far: zero and zero. Any more would be bad for business. If it isn't matter, it doesn't matter...or does it? 

As you can see, I favor the impractical and, some would say, the ridiculous and needlessly complicated. But I wouldn't say that, oh no, haha, oh no no no. The ridiculously complicated is needed. While things might get convoluted, often absurdly so, the nonsensical has a large role in all of this. "This" is for humor and discoveries sake, for both me and mine, and you and yours. Fortunately, when things get unwieldy and chaotic: confusion, accidents, and misunderstandings tend to happen. Don't worry; no one is going to get hurt. I don't wield that much power in my small nomadic village, and neither does my art. How unfortunate, because even if I was "killing it" no one has, or hopefully ever will be harmed in the thinking about, talking about, making, displaying, or purchasing of my art. I wish I could say the same for all art, but that's another story, one that historians affectionately call art history. With my art - unlike the art mentioned above and the real world misfortunes, injustices, and inequalities that are linked to it - the stakes are not that high (or grounded). No harm, no foul, just a lot of folly...and I say folly affectionately (like an art historical affection, but with less patronizing myopic elitism).

 So what's the point of this folly?  The point, and I'm hesitant to explain it, as explanations of artist's intentions, like explanations of jokes: barely hold water, or rather, they take on too much water and tend to sink. Spoiler Alert: In the end this text hits bottom, and fades from sight: I'm killing it (sans quotes). In the event, you are compelled to jump ship I hear the view on the upper the deck of the S.S. Schadenfreude will provide a superior view of my sinking point. Bonus: the orchestra has agreed to play till we go down.

  If your viewpoint of my folly appears to provide no point, and it's difficult to see through the illogical, ridiculous, and absurd: one highlight of it all is: you're not alone. The other highlight is, hey it's just art, and the third highlight is the act of highlighting confusing art together. This collective highlighting pushes the illogical towards the logical. Yes, finding, (or inventing) hidden logic can take a lot of time, patience and a sense of humor, but it is time well spent... or is it time well earned? Well, either way, I can make this promise for the time-being: it will be rewarding. 

Speaking of rewards, (like clockwork) I have a big ask: Do me a favor and take my word (or data if you prefer) because time and attention are money, and while money doesn't grow on trees, it can be found everywhere else if you pay attention to nonsense long enough that it starts to make sense. That's my investment advice to you. Hold that nonsense stock until a hidden intention, new meaning or a once invisible connection is visible. It's a sound investment, well more of a full sensory investment that has the potential to diversify to the mirror neurons of your community, so I suppose it's a world investment. That said, sometimes I just let go of nonsense because my arms are tired. You should feel free to do that too. I don't want to be an uninvited puppeteer, so I won't speak for or ask to control your arms. In my case, when I retire my arms, I usually have a good laugh and occasionally, albeit less regularly: get a good laugh. Either way, it's at the expense of no one and benefit of... at least another person. I hope this getting and giving continues when I retire more than my arms. At the end of the line/bottom of the page, the laughs are laughs, even if it's of the "oh that joke was so bad I had to laugh" variety. I'll take that over most every other laugh-less moment. Right now, with this text, I'm having a hard time getting a handle on what precisely the significance of this particular letting go and taking is, but when I grasp it, I'll be sure to throw it your way. If you catch on before me, I hope you would do the same. I would be happy to compensate you and yours for your efforts.  As I said, I have PayPal and Venmo, but I have a feeling when we get there those things won't matter. We can dream, can't we?  I say yes. Yes mostly because it's a pleasure and a privilege which I am honored and grateful to be able to participate in. The fact of the matter is: any more would only be good for business, which doesn't (and isn't) matter, at least in my small case.

To pack this statement up into a concise package (for the time-being, space-being, and thought-being): the aim of my work is to playfully highlight the intersecting connecting social and physical structure of our world that, at first sight, is invisible (like this text).

That is, until we investigate and figure out the qrks inherent in the way it wrks. What you do with that knowledge is none of my business. Hopefully, it's not a business at all, but the beginning of a paradigm shift. Shifing towards......

If you have any ideas of how I can wip this stmnt into shape, please don't hesitate to contact me at berensmichael@gmail.com

Like everyone else: I want to CV (see victory). I just want to walk this path in a way where no one feels the agony of da feet. Because, after all, they are not my feets alone. :)