Picture the young visual artist in a spotlit studio no more than 8′ x 8′. He sits on a hard, unbalanced stool. Sufjan Stevens is crooning from the inside of an iPhone to an audience of crumpled paper and rolls of untacked canvas stacked haphazardly in the corner.
In front of the young artist is a hefty pad of paper on an easel. Just beyond that is a pedestal topped by a 12″ drawing mannequin in a pose of angst. The artist uses a charcoal pencil to fasten some emotion and delicate features to the figure’s pose. The final result is a heavy patch of ambiguous black scratches, suggestive of something delicate and pained. The most attention has been given to the hands: arched fingers, taught palms, strained wrists . . . and they’re still not right.
This is the sixteenth attempt. It’s not good enough for a title but it’s also not bad enough to be thrown away. So he scribbles “untitled, charcoal” at the top, next to the date and his signature and slides it into a folder of a fifty other pieces labelled”untitled, charcoal.”