Art Disaster

1971, 32:40 min, b&w, sound

In this exercise in associative meaning and word/image conjoinment, Baldessari pins a sequence of photographs to a wall below the "headline" Art Disaster, which has been torn from a newspaper. While some of the photos are clear, others are illegible. The viewer reads the images in relation to the headline, struggling to derive meaning from each arbitrary juxtaposition. An absurd montage, a kind of disjointed narrative, emerges from the incongruities: A photograph of an empty bench precedes a photograph of a palm tree; a self-portrait of Cezanne is juxtaposed with a photograph of a butter pat in a dish. Exploiting the linguistic principles of metaphor and metonymy, Baldessari allows the viewer to interpret along two lines: vertically, from "Art Disaster" to picture below, or horizontally, from picture to picture. As demonstrated by the wonderfully surrealist narrative sequences that result, Baldessari encourages unconscious associations and subliminal meanings to emerge from the juxtaposition of found objects.

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