Questions without answers for John Baldessari


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I feel both inspired by this text and slightly creeped out. The lack of a response put me in mind of someone asking questions of a dead loved one. Yet many of the questions were tantalising and created a tension between being interested to know what John Baldessari would have said and trying to think what my own response would be. It serves as in interesting way of raising themes and ideas about the work. Without providing definitive responses it leaves the subject open, something we talked about for artists statements. Salle has a lot of power here to imply meaning in John Baldessari's work. Without knowing what input Baldessari had we can't know whether these are appropriate meanings.

If we consider an interview as a kind of verbal portrait, then perhaps the answers aren't needed. David Salle wrote this from the inside, as a friend, and so he designed this "portrait" of Baldessari as an interview. This builds a picture of the subject purely by describing the negative space around him. When he feels confident he has put his thumb on something, he teases that he offers a "hint". By providing only questions, this could have come across as more of an interrogation. I think the humor and friendship it invokes ensures that didn't happen.

Oh, and the dog. Natch.

This really highlights the power of the interviewer. The draw of an interview is the thoughts of the interviewed, but the interviewer really holds too much power in the situation. Why not just have one question and then allow the interviewed person talk, or better yet, why not just record what the person says in a totally free environment. I do enjoy this interview though.

This is an interesting form, though maybe only slightly informative about Baldessari himself. It does offer a glimpse into his relationship with the author, with small clues and inside jokes to outline their history together (synedoche effect, indeed.)

I particularly love how this draws the reader in, but forces one to imagine the answers. In spite of Baldessari's artistic renown, our internal responses are presented as equally relevant to his.

What is the difference between wit and humor?

Was Baldessari actually there? I wonder if this really was an interview, in the true sense of the word, or if these questions viewed together in this order are meant as a piece of art themselves. This reminds me of when we were discussing the line between catalogs, monographs, and artist books. It is laid out like an interview in form, but I'm not really sure what to call this.

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