It does of course matter if the purpose of the statement is to prove that its subject can write or express him/herself verbally. As you say, this will vary from case to case.
Good point David. Expressing oneself through writing is an important skill, that everyone should have. It could also be that an artists statement written by someone other than the artist can't truely express the artists motivation behnd his work. That could be the key reason; to see if there is more to what the artist does than simply snapping the shutter.
It is that very photograph that should make me realize that there was more behind it than releasing the shutter by accident.
Yes, sometimes the photographer's story evokes a different impression. But that would be another story.
Am I too puritan?
I’m trying to get an international artists in residence project off the ground and am around artists’ studios weekly, which of course does not make me an expert nor less naïve… And I sometimes have hard times with curators, art scholars and gallery owners.
But I get the impression that the longer the more artists deliver a booklet explaining what they are doing. To me the pure work is decisive. This won’t stop me from asking the artist or reading those texts. But this all will deliver another story. Something second stage. And what about seeing some works of art just as something mysterious destined to stay unexplained?
If a non-writing artist wants to express himself literally then he should do so. And I am free to read that. I might even see this as an integral part of his work (thus still pure, I can put several labels on a drawer), or just as an explaining add-on.
Independent on how one approaches a work of art, if someone does not feel at ease expressing or explaining himself in writing, don’t force him.
When I am recruiting people (in geophysics, nothing to do with photography), I look at their applications for factual evidence of their abilities. A so-called personal statement is so much hot air otherwise. "I spent 6 months doing voluntary service work in Somalia" is a much stronger statement of personal values than "I want to help the needy".
Applying the same logic to an artist's statement, it seems to me that either the artist's work reflects his personal values clearly, in which case the statement is redundant, or it fails to and then the statement is also so much hot air.
So I'm with AgX - a coherent body of work demonstrates that the artist was not just snapping the shutter by accident.
I think artists statements, as a requirement, are total and complete bullshit -- an artificial imposition by critics and academics that artists must play on their (critics and academics) home turf of linguistics.
I say go ahead and have someone else write the statement. If enough people go that route, maybe statements (again, as a requirement) will be exposed as the joke they are and just go away.