Choosing Vegetables: A Faux Exercise of Taste

wrong-1967 Baldessari

In his work, John Baldessari continually challenges notions of beauty and disregards conventional rules of what is “right” and “wrong” when it comes to art –his piece Wrong comes to mind, a photograph in which he purposefully defies the rules of photography and composition. His artwork urges the viewer to question these rules, for example in his series Choosing (A Game for Two Players), where he plays with personal perceptions of beauty (David Salle calls it a “faux exercise of taste”)

The game is simple: one player arranges three samples of the same vegetable in a line  (eg. three green beans), the second player is asked to choose the “best” of the three, based on his/her own aesthetic criteria. That lucky bean moves on to the next round where it is placed next to two new beans, and again player two is asked to pick a favourite, and so on. Meanwhile, the exercise is recorded in a series of photographs where we can see the player’s fingertip pointing at the chosen vegetable. The absurd game just goes to show that taste is subjective and there are no universal rules for beauty, be it a turnip, a person, or a work of art, we should not conform to conventional standards.

Baldessari Choosing Green Beans 1972

Choosing (A Game for Two Players): Green Beans. 1971

John Baldessary Choosing: Carrots 1972

Choosing (A Game for Two Players): Carrots. 1972

Choosing: Turnips

Choosing (A Game for Two Players): Turnips, 1971-72

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