JOHN BALDESSARI (US)
Videos I Am
Making Art (1971) and I Will Not Make Any
More Boring Art (1971). Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix.
John Baldessari, I Am Making Art (1971). Still from the video. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix.
John Baldessari, Exhibition view of the videos I Am Making Art (1971) and I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971) at the III Venice International Performance Art Week 2016. Image © Claudia Popovici
Baldessari (born 1931 in National City, California, US) is an influential
American conceptual artist with a varied practice spanning across the mediums,
and combining the narrative potential of images and the associative power of
language, codes and semantics. From 1970, his text-based works inquire the
arbitrariness of made-up rules by language. Although
Baldessari does not call himself a performer — "I think performance
for me is a little bit too hot an activity" — his "anti-performance"
is nonetheless the core of the two 1971 video works presented at the ART WEEK, in which Baldessari challenges
definitions of the content and execution of art-making:
suggestive black-and-white video I Am
Making Art (1971) shows the artist performing with deadpan precision, he
moves his hands, arms and entire body in studied, minute motions, intoning the
phrase "I am making art" with each gesture. Each articulation of the
phrase is given a different emphasis and nuance, as if art were being created
from moment to moment.
The video I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art of 1971 shows Baldessari, who like
an errant schoolboy, dutifully writes, "I will not make any more boring art" over and over again in a notebook for the duration of the tape. In an ironic
disjunction of form and content, Baldessari's methodical, repetitive exercise
deliberately contradicts the point of the lesson—to refrain from creating "boring" art.