Folding Hat

1970-71, 29:48 min, b&w, sound

Folding Hat is a deadpan conceptual exercise that represents a dashed attempt to rescue an object from the meaning assigned to it. Whistling an aria from The Barber of Seville, Baldessari bends and folds a simple hat into numerous configurations. However, for the duration of the exercise, which unfolds in real time, the object never loses its "hatness." In the end it is untransmutable — no escape can be made from its meaning. Although Baldessari tries to drive a wedge between the signifier and signified, the viewer never misrecognizes the hat.