John Baldessari’s “I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art”: A 1971 Conceptual Art Piece/DIY Art Course

There are any num­ber of ways to take artist John Baldessar­i’si 1971 piece I Will Not Make Any More Bor­ing Art, so why not a DIY MOOC? No reg­is­tra­tion required and no course cred­it. Stu­dents who watch the entire 13-minute video above will receive cer­tifi­cates of com­ple­tion, pro­vid­ed they’re will­ing to write them out them­selves on lined note­book paper. (It’s real­ly not that far fetched in an age where thou­sands of unof­fi­cial stu­dents recent­ly took advan­tage of car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry’s will­ing­ness to tweet her assign­ments for her Unthink­able Mind course at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin.)

If you’re on the fence about the mer­its of Con­cep­tu­al Art, you may be swayed to learn the his­to­ry of the piece doc­u­ment­ed above. The year before its cre­ation, John Baldessari incin­er­at­ed his oeu­vre, an act he referred to as The Cre­ma­tion Project. Short­ly there­after, he respond­ed to Nova Sco­tia Col­lege of Art and Design’s invi­ta­tion to exhib­it with a let­ter instruct­ing stu­dents to be his sur­ro­gates in a pun­ish­ment piece:

The piece is this, from floor to ceil­ing should be writ­ten by one or more peo­ple, one sen­tence under anoth­er, the fol­low­ing state­ment: I will not make any more bad art. At least one col­umn of the sen­tence should be done floor to ceil­ing before the exhib­it opens and the writ­ing of the sen­tence should con­tin­ue every­day, if pos­si­ble, for the length of the exhib­it. I would appre­ci­ate it if you could tell me how many times the sen­tence has been writ­ten after the exhib­it clos­es. It should be hand writ­ten, clear­ly writ­ten with cor­rect spelling….

Once the stu­dents had pun­ished them­selves to his spec­i­fi­ca­tions, the artist per­mit­ted the school to pub­lish a fundrais­ing lith­o­graph, mod­eled on his hand­writ­ing.

boring art

It’s not a stretch to imag­ine that writ­ing this sen­tence over and over could have changed more than a few par­tic­i­pants’ lives, or at least rerout­ed the path their careers would take. What will hap­pen if you take 13 minutes—the length of the video above—to try it your­self.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Join Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry for a Uni­ver­si­ty-Lev­el Course on Doo­dling and Neu­ro­science

A Brief His­to­ry of John Baldessari, Nar­rat­ed by Tom Waits

Yoko Ono’s Make-Up Tips for Men

Ayun Hal­l­i­day will wade through the bor­ing in search of the good. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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  • Bronze Peanut says:

    The piece became bor­ing after one minute, 22 sec­onds. David Ogle, David Ogle, David Ogle, (I’m already bor­ing myself after 45 sec­onds. This must be a bet­ter work of Art!!!nSigned, David (what the Hell, u already know!!!)

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