"An artist statement has two functions:
"Providing a written context of the photographer’s intentions, thoughts and working process for a portfolio of photographs which is particularly insightful when the photographer is not there physically to speak about the work.
"And, allowing the photographer to organize and structure their thoughts so he or she can be in command when presenting themselves and their work to others that allows for the work to be experienced in an engaging and meaningful manner, particularly in determining what to say and what not to say."
(Paul Turounet, found here)
I'd personally expand/modify this a little, but it's a very good way to look at what a "statement" is about.