How We Do Art Now

1973, 12:54 min, b&w, sound

How We Do Art Now is a series of conceptual non sequiturs that illustrate Baldessari's strategy of indexing variations of simple actions or objects to the point of absurdity. In the performance How Various Persons Spit Out Beans, a series of people, seen in profile, spit beans from their mouths. The simple act grows in comic intensity as the participants use various inept and expert methods to perform the action. The droll Cigar Lexicon merges Baldessari's project of compiling a "dictionary of images" with his strategy of defining an object's quintessence through continued repetition of an action. Working at a methodical pace, he solemnly demonstrates and numbers fifteen stages of smoking a cigar. He bites the tip off (#1), lights it, blows smoke rings at various angles, rolls it in both hands, breaks it in half, retrieves a new cigar, and finally discards it. Alluding to Magritte's painting Ceci n'est pas un pipe and Freud's famous remark that "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," Baldessari exploits the symbolic meaning of simple actions, rendering them slightly ridiculous.

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