The name of an artwork

Invisible man

With just over a month to go to the large "Theatre of Shame" exhibition in March, I keep busy finishing the last artworks, contacting the press, doing interviews and planning the opening with the gallery. Creating these artworks has been a two year process, so it will be very interesting for me to finally show them to the public!

Part of the last work I do before an exhibition, is deciding on the titles of the works. I suppose this is very different from artist to artist, some may know what an artwork is called quite early in the process, some doesn't want it to be called anything, and for some the name becomes clear during the process. For me, a late arrival of the title is more the norm. When I work with an artwork, I work visually, emotionally, and do not think in titles or words at all. Making visual art is for me an exercise in speaking without words, saying things that may be between what words clumsily pins down. So finding a "title" for a work is no easy job. I do not want the title to lock the reading of the picture - just invite the viewer to look closer and see what she experiences meeting the picture. An easy way out would be to go for the "Untitled"-tag, but I have discovered that for me at last that doesn't work. Meeting an "untitled" artwork on an exhibition, I find that the distance to the picture grows larger, not smaller. Untitled means "neutral" to me, so I have to try to get over the titling hurdle in another way.

So I end up experimenting. Writing a lot of possible titles for the artwork next to it, and see what sticks, what feels right. This new artwork for example, from the Theatre of Shame-series, has still no name. I suppose it is about waiting patiently in ones self-imposed enclosure, but what is its name? These last days it has been called "Unlikely Hero", "A Thousand Prayers", "Engulfed", "Permeated by Fog". None of these seem right. I keep on looking, hoping the right nomination will turn up before the opening. If not, "untitled" it will have to be.
© 2017 Trygve Skogrand / The Bridgeman Art Library