collection

Inventory

  • 1972
  • John Baldessari
  • video (PAL, black-and-white, sound), duration 23:50 min.
  • tijdsduur / duration 00:23:50
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 2001
  • Inventory number 2580

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Description

In a sly twist on the methodology of the 18th-century "philosophes" who classified the laws and history of the world in massive encyclopedias, Baldessari devises and then subverts his own system for cataloguing the world. In a matter-of-fact tone, he states that he is going to present a precise, methodical inventory of objects, progressing from small to large in size. Drawing on his own collection of found objects, he exhibits and describes a seemingly arbitrary series of over thirty disparate items: a small glass bead, a nut, a dried orange peel, an artificial flower, a cigarette pack, toy money, a utility belt, a shoe tree. Stripped of any frame of reference — color, scale — the objects are virtually unidentifiable as the things Baldessari says they are. Without visual perception or cognition, the viewer relies on Baldessari's voiceover description to supply the objects' meaning. Therein, he suggests, lies the critical paradox: By undermining the viewer's empirical perception, video ultimately is proven to be a flawed medium for the indexing and classification of the world.

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Context