Artists often use language and text to communicate ideas. But is the idea of an artwork more important than the end result? What happens in the process of translating or realising these ideas?
Watch the video documentation of John Baldessari’s Thirteen Colorful Inside Jobs, 2013, from Kaldor Public Art Project 27: 13 Rooms, which shows a team of painters carefully following the artist’s instructions. (Silent, duration 1:13 minutes)
After watching the video, try to imagine that this artwork is like a recipe.
Brainstorm a list of ingredients required to make the artwork (including people).
Find examples of written instructions or rules from everyday life – such as recipes, IKEA assembly guides, sports rules, road signs, government regulations, or school rules.
Look closely at the language that is used to communicate these rules.
Take a sheet of paper. Write 10 examples of verbs that you find in your everyday rules. (These can be positive or negative, eg. “Throw” or “Do not park”). Cut out each verb, and place these pieces of paper in a container.
Write down 10 nouns that you find in the rules. (These can be things or people, eg. “cucumber” or “teachers”). Cut out each noun, and place in another container.
Write 10 measurements that you find in the rules. (These can be measurements of time, distance or quantities. They can be precise or descriptive, eg. “5cm” or “until golden brown”). Cut out each measurement, and place in a third container.
Pick one piece of paper from each container in order – verb, noun, measurement. What do you find?
Shuffle the papers in each container, and pick another verb, noun and measurement. What new combinations can you make?
Can you act out these new instructions that you have created? Can you add illustrations or diagrams?
What do you notice about the language used to convey instructions and rules? Who are the “authors” of these rules? How do they convey authority or expertise?
What happens when you shift that language into a different context? How might these shifts affect the audience’s perception of authority and expertise?
Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to supporting cultural institutions and empowering artists across the physical and digital worlds. Kaldor Public Art Projects is grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for its support of this project, the tenth commission generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Kaldor Public Art Projects is proud that do it (australia) is supported by founding patrons The Balnaves Foundation and Naomi Milgrom Foundation. Their long-term support has allowed Kaldor Public Art Projects to continue through its 50th anniversary and beyond.
The NSW Government continues to provide invaluable support through Create NSW.