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
John 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:
- The 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.