It crosses Baldessari’s mind that a good project for him and Cesarco would be a collaboration. “I just thought of it this morning. I wanted Alejandro to think about it. So much of his work is subtly or directly about collaboration.” Cesarco lights right up. “You can blame the other guy!” he quips. He’s joking, of course. In their conceptual world, communication counts for more than ownership. As Cesarco has remarked: “It’s almost more important who you’re speaking to than what you’re saying.”
“A good collaboration isn’t just something that two artists did,” says Baldessari, affably but with an added touch of the mentor. “It’s something that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Where does the work begin? We decide we’re going to do a great work. And at some point, it will be out there! It might not be anything at all, just word of mouth.”
Cesarco: “That would be fine with me!”
Baldessari: “A rumour project! When the rumour comes back to me, it’s complete!”
Months later, in a Manhattan restaurant near his office, Cesarco was still struggling with tangible specifics. “The project will be ‘shopped out’ to a printer, the same way as Prima Facie, but at a different scale,” he says. “John understood that a collaboration would benefit me more than him. So he said: ‘You propose.’ I gave him three options. There’s one I hope he chooses. I provide the initial spark, and his involvement will be to find a formal solution — almost like a record producer.”
And a few weeks after that, Murray Guy, the Manhattan gallery that exhibits Cesarco’s work, released the title of the collaboration: Retrospective. The piece is expected to consist of 12 silkscreen images measuring 91 by 121 centimetres, printed on aluminium sheets. It will be accompanied by a booklet exploring the idea of looking back.
And what will it look like? Only time will tell.
Extracted from an article written by Matthew Gurewitsch for Mentor & Protégé, a magazine documenting the 2006/2007 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.