Juxtapose – (verb), juxtaposition (noun)
To place two things next to each other in hope that they might make a more meaningful statement in a pair. This is particularly useful when a work of art has nothing more substantial to be said for it.
Example: I juxtaposed light and dark in this painting so you can see the difference even if you are colorblind.
Fetishize – (verb)
This is a really, really bad thing to do. Naughty! If you find the work of art that you are describing is fetishizing anything in anyway, and thereby objectifying (ooh, another good word) or reifying (this is one too!) it, your tone better be serious and critical.
Example: This picture is fetishizing someone, somewhere, and I am going to show you who and how.
The Other – (noun)
The Other is a person that is usually outside of the mainstream in some way, and is therefore usually the object of some heavy-duty fetishizing. You can use these words in conjunction (fetishizing the other), or rhapsodize about how an artist’s otherness makes them interesting.
Example: He’s my brother from another other.
Phenomenological – (adjective)
Very hard to pronounce, but you can add it in whenever you have actually seen a work of art in person. You can stick pretty much any other word after it. Don’t worry if you miss a syllable. Chances are no one is listening.
Example: The phenomenological experience of, or interaction with the work gives it a whole new meaning. It’s all about phenomenology.
This terms refers to the seemingly incredible discovery that an art object (or indeed any object) will take up space, or do something within a space. Extremely profound stuff.
Example: That has spatiality. This has spatiality. You have spatiality. I have spatiality.
Dislocated – (adjective)
Yes, exactly like a shoulder or a knee. But in terms of art writing, people are usually being dislocated in reference to some kind of political nomadism. If you use dislocation too many times in a paragraph, try displacement.
Example: Dislocate this!
Aesthetics – (noun)
Even though art was all about aesthetics at one time, the term is not necessarily all that interesting. Still, throw it in for good measure.
Example: Aesthetics don’t really matter, but here goes anyway.
Discursive - (adjective)
Anything pertaining to discourse, which is the burden we all bear and a weight that might never be lifted. If you feel like Atlas, the globe on your shoulders is probably a discursive one.
Example: I’m not just into pretty things, cover me in something discursive.
Historicization - (noun)
This word describes the way in which human beings place a historical structure upon everything around us. It is also a reminder that nothing we do or write has any greater meaning beyond what we ascribe to it.
Example: The historicization of a work of art doesn’t do much to change it, except perhaps give it a more prominent place on the museum wall.
Avant-garde - (noun)
The historical avant-garde refers to a group of artists working in Europe (particularly France) at the beginning of the 20th Century. However, it is now just a fancy French word used to describe something unusual.
Example: The artist ‘s performance today was avant-garde. She hung around the gallery as herself.