Man Bartlett

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John Baldessari “The Cremation Project”


Not mentioned below in original post, my favorite part of this project is how he baked some of the ashes into cookies and served them.


John Baldessari, Cremation Project, Corpus Wafers (With Text, Recipe and Documentation), 1970, Jar of cookies; original affidavit of publication; recipe for making cookies; public newspaper announcement containing a notice of cremation of his early works done between May 1953 and March 1966; set of 6 photographs of the cremation event, fimensions variable, Gift of The Glenstone Foundation, Mitchell P. Rales, Founder, in honor of Ned Rifkin’s tenure as Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (2002-2005), 2005, Accession Number: 05.26. [source]


In 1970 he gathered up almost all the art he had made between graduation from art school in 1953 and the start of the word paintings in 1966 and took it to a mortuary crematorium. Everything was incinerated. Some ashes were interred in a book-shaped bronze urn, and a paid death-notice was published in the paper. RIP, John Baldessari, painter.

I just came across this post in a Google search for “baldessari cookies from ashes.” At the beginning of last year I deleted my entire performance art history (with the help of visitors to my website), in the form of a browser cookie. It was an ode to the Baldessari piece. And a way for me to try to shake the weight of being a “Social Media Artist.” Whatever the hell that means anyway. However I just realized I had no idea how I came to know it in the first place, and I was beginning to question whether or not it had actually existed at all, or if I’d imagined it. The post above, and the link to the Brooklyn Rail article, seems to confirm it. Further, I follow Eloise Moorhead, so it’s entirely possible that in July of 2010 I saw this post and it planted the seed for the later work. Oh, internet, you win again. Oh, and Baldessari, you win always.

Man Bartlett