John A , May 18, 2011; 02:29 p.m.
I see a mix regarding statements and find that because of where photography has developed that it is harder for one person to fully understand the vast number of concerns being explored--and visual solutions- out there by only looking. So I generally look first, then read a statement, and then look again. Sometimes when there is no statement I just find it harder to connect with the work. On the other hand, overly explanatory statements can ruin the life of the work by defining it too specifically. One that I read recently was not all that specific over all but specific enough that looking at the work created a disconnect with what was said versus what I was looking at--and the work was familiar enough as to the idea and presentation that this was not what I would have expected. As such, my conclusion was that the work had a disconnect with the intent.
I have a statement attached to all of my series of work on my website. I try to discuss generally what my motivations and concerns are about but let the work take it from there. Personally, I think developing the statement is part of the process of making sense of our own work and then allowing others to at least get oriented in the direction we at least thought we were heading. The viewers experience might be different as they bring something unique to them to their viewing of the work and I don't have any interest in controlling what they see or experience--good or bad. Over time, I find the statements change a bit or are modified, but also provide insight into how someone's ideas and concerns evolve--even my own.