disco and art


Instead, what prompted my familiar feelings of disbelief was reading John Baldessari’s explanation for why he decided to resign from the MOCA board of trustees. (Baldessari was the first of the four artist-trustees to resign; the others—Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie, and Ed Ruscha—have since fallen suit.) Baldessari has made a career of appropriating photos from commercial, mass-produced entertainment and then altering or juxtaposing them with words and images in a deadpan fashion—in its 1960s iteration, this was part of a larger movement dedicated to destroying the boundary between art and life—but it turns out, and this is what surprised me, there were limits to this project. In an interview with the New York Times, Baldessari, who as recently as 2004 was still proclaiming his mission as “trying to jam the media world together with what we would call the ‘real world,’” objected to what the Times described as “a large exhibition being planned by Mr. Deitch that will explore the influence of disco culture on the visual arts and performance art.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, we learn that Baldessari could not believe what Deitch was planning: “When I heard about that disco show I had to read it twice. At first I thought ‘this is a joke’ but I realized, no, this is serious.”

more from Rochelle Gurstein at TNR here.