PRINT January 2008



John Baldessari and Alejandro Cesarco, Retrospective #10, 2007, silk screen on aluminum, 48 x 36".

JOHN BALDESSARI, RADICAL PHILOSOPHER? You’d be forgiven for laughing out loud at the question, since the generally affable septuagenarian artist who some thirty-five years ago could be found humbly waving goodbye to sailboats (as they came into port) is not usually the first person authorities cite as an unruly element. And yet when looking at the current issue of Artforum—and, more specifically, at Paolo Virno’s 2005 treatise Jokes and Innovative Action: For a Logic of Change, a selection of which appears here for the first time in English—one inevitably gravitates toward Baldessari’s practice as a potentially provocative model, particularly as it is steeped in both philosophies of language and, more pertinently, of pedagogy. Certainly, that such a hard-nosed theorist as Virno turns, in his latest book, to humor as a political conduit—seeking to create a sense of

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