Jerry Saltz edits artist statements on Facebook. You will need a Facebook account to read the thread.
Mr. Saltz is a professional critic– he knows how to use words to set a fire. But still, his experiment with Facebook is provocative, and maybe even virtuosic. Under his guidance, critical discourse and a critical mass of interested participants are pushing Facebook up against its own technical limits. When Saltz invited artists to post statements about their work in the comments for some interactive editing, over one thousand comments resulted, which had to be spread out over seven threads to prevent automatic “deletions”! The result is a new media epic and admittedly quite a bit to wade through. But if you have ever had to write or edit one of these statements, it is a priceless read.
Saltz coaches the writer to treat the statement as a question of life or death, referring frequently to the riddle of the Sphinx. Here’s a little bit of his coaching style, in all caps:
NOW, [writer’s name] DEAR, STAND BEFORE THE SPHINX; A STORM MORE HORRIBLE THAN THE WORST FEARS OF THE WORST DARK NIGHT OF THE WORST SOUL WILL COME OVER YOU; IN WAVES IT WILL WASH OVER YOU. TELL US WHAT THE SPHINX ASKED YOU. NO HURRY. IF YOU DO NOT RETURN IN 40 YEARS WE WILL SEND LAWYERS, GUNS, AND MONEY.
REMEMBER, WE WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU.
I ONLY NEED FOUR HONEST SENTENCES ABOUT YOUR WORK. FOUR.
The quote comes from the December 25th, 3:59 PM comment on the thread titled Repost II: An experiment. An amazing Christmas gift!