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Readymade, Found Object, Photograph Author(s): Margaret Iversen Source: Art Journal, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), pp.

44-57 Published by: College Art Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 14/08/2011 04:08
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the readymade's legacy has been largely photographic. the immaculate new kitchen as object implies a subject trying to keep a lid on a repressed desire for glorious muck. readymade objects. S. in Surrealism Painting. Diarmuid Costello. Expositionsurr6alisted'objets. This was not so clear in the mid. was often invoked. 1936. is not exhausted Margaret Iversen by the concept of beauty. Drawing out this early avant-gardes continuity is not done in the spirit of a nostalgic return to notions of beauty. 8 (April 1984): 36-43. and James Meyer for their thoughts and encouragement.What I want to do in this paper is to drive a wedge between them. Artforum no. (1935). The fetish object. only the readymade and the found object still retain any currency. Stephen Melville. but rather as a way of deepening our understanding of contemporary practice and theory. See particularly Jean-FrancoisLyotard. 4.' Of the nonethnographic types listed. implies a subject that is split along the lines of acknowledgement and denial of castration. May." 22. "match" the subject. They turn out to embody different aspects of the most influential account of what might be called the subjective dimension of our relation to art-Immanuel Kant's conception of the aesthetic. Briony Fer. incorporated natura objects. Found Object. even now. 275-80. 1986) and "The Sublime and the Avant-Garde. dedicated to uncovering this kind of relation. perturbed objects. I take up the less familiar theme of the found object's photographic legacy. the object does not. at the same time. Owing to the work of influential artists such as Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha. found objects. Photograph I would like to thank Dawn Ades. for another example. I. The Beautiful Every object implies a certain kind of subject. since the object is supposed to compensate somehow for a subjective sense of deficiency. Manchester: Manchester University Press. mathematical objects. Paris. and the readymade can no longer be subsumed under the Surrealist umbrella. Oceanic objects.3Yet. Galerie Ratton. If recent debates have centered on the concept of beauty. Andr6 Breton's account of the exhibition in "Crisisof the Object" has a slightly different set of categories. the sublime.1930os when Breton could define readymades as "manufactured objects raised to the dignity of works of art through the choice of the artist. We will find that their distinctiveness hinges on the kind of subjective relation each assumes." 2Yet.and antibeauty overlook is the continuity of certain aesthetic attitudes and ideas that stretch from Kant through the and reemerge in contemporary art practices. The glossy perfection of objects in fashion magazines. of course. "Lighthouseof the Bride" and 88. Psychoanalysis is. implies a narcissistic subject who fears and defends against the ravages of the body in pieces.4 What the strident debates pro. American and Oceanic objects are included under the heading of Primitive and his list includes mobile objects. See trans. Andr6 Breton. In the latter part of this paper. Surrealism and Painting. there is an inverted relationship. The Post-Modern Condition: Reporton Knowledge A (1979. Neil Cox. duringthe 1980s that other form of aesthetic judgment. The aesthetic. Taylor Breton. 1972).The 1936 Surrealist of Exhibition Objects brought together a bewildering range of items including natural objects. and Surrealist objects. See Alex Alberro's article in this issue for a fairly comprehensive bibliographyof the debate. (London: MacDonald. I want to question the wisdom of these critics' opponents who reaffirm the anti-aesthetic and denigrate the Kantian tradition. so to speak. 45 art journal . W. Or again. interpreted natural objects. Marcel Duchamp's readymade and Andre Breton's found object have such different legacies that they now arguably constitute a categorical distinction. Readymade. I aim to cut across the current tendency on the part of some critics to invoke a vague conception of the beautiful in order to call into question postconceptual or postmodern trends in the arts and criticism. 3. rather. the kitchen is what's called a "reaction formation. the terms are still often run together and used interchangeably. American objects. focusing on the work of Mary Kelly and Gabriel Orozco. 2. for example. By setting the readymade and the found object in relation to aesthetic theory." You will notice that in each of these cases. I intend to show.

NewYork.8 cm).6 x 50.Gabriel Orozco. WaitingChairs. 44 SUMMER 2004 . Cibachrome. 1998. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. (40. Edition of 5. 16 x 20 in.

possessiveness-the whole complex of relations that normally governs our lives. for example. It is the focus of an opaque. ArnoldandM. Psychoanalytic categories. male.: Press. according to Kant in TheCritique Judgment. sensory experience."in TheCambridge of to ed. Iversen Blackwells. Representation I. D. disinterestedness is invoked in favor of an extrapersonal and intrinsically poetic domain of language. and The "Taste. Immanuel trans. Schopenhauer's stress on the dominance of the will in our everyday lives meant that he particularly admired Netherlandish depictions of the everyday. briefly.Forgood fullCambridge University lengthstudiessee HenryE. Paul Guyer(Cambridge: Press. its "disinterestedness. Sublimity Genius: Aesthetics NatureandArt. Arthur The as and Schopenhauer. tion. tranquil.F. Dantois critical Kant's 6.1987). nected the disinterested aesthetic attitude with Dutch art. wrote an appreciative account of Edouard Manet.Allison. This is why the judgment is said to be reflective rather than determinate.E. This is because the object of aesthetic judgment is one that eludes conceptual definition and cognitive clarity. Kant. power. whose disinterested attitude is just the assumption of the position of the subject in general entitled to legislate for all?6There are two features of this account that I want to draw out and examine in the light of contemporary art practices and critical discourses. he argued.1996). to overcome the mind's estrangement from the world. ethical. "The aesthetic beholder does not contemplate this without emotion. to as picksout the claim universality the most featureof the judgment."Kant the AestheticImaginaMichael ed. Companion Kant. Kant theClaims Press. see and Podro. Forintroductory accountsof thisbook.undistorted by appetite or desire. instrumental. disinterested. WernerS. 7. Payne (New York: Dover. The accomplishment of this is called disinterestedness. Pluhar Hackett. in the sense of rational or cognitive.1992). will-free frame of mind which was necessary for contemplating such insignificant things so objectively. if suggestive. Stephane Mallarme. for it graphically describes to him the calm. and appetitive. of Critique Judgment. Kant offered very few examples of the kind of experience he was describbut both Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer coning. bourgeois individuality. World Will vol.2001).94. but without subsuming the sensuous particular under any definite concept and so bringing the activity to an end. considering them so attentively. And it is this opacity that stimulates the free play of imagination and understanding. formal rhymes and rhythms. Seventeenth-century Dutch still-life and genre painting. would seem to be of little relevance in this case.See Kant afterDuchamp (Cambridge. 197." There are different types of interest. praising the way his hand became "an impersonal 46 SUMMER 2004 . of Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University 1979). (Indianapolis: 245. (Oxford: 2003).5 Is there anything to be salvaged from this account of the beautiful? Or is it hopelessly conciliatory and mired in a particularWestern. for example.trans. show an objective. associations." the to After Endof Art: Art of Contemporary andthe Paole Princeton Press. rational capacity and our receptivity to sensuous impressions are engaged. andPaul and Guyer.Yet."7 What is being described here is an art practice that tries to circumvent selfish desire. In this case. that is. It seems as though the judgment is made by some part of the self unlike what we normally think of as subjectivity. is for hima It important with signof hope thatwe canshareourfeelings others. these two faculties search for and find analogies. This activity helps both to heal the divisions between our various faculties and. and EvaSchaper. mastery. Theory Kant's A of of Taste: Reading theCritique Aesthetic of Judgment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.on the other hand.5. History (Princeton: University de 1997). One is the issue of disinterestedness. 1969). MIT Mass. neither can the judgment be objective. In concert. then. Arthur of universalism in "From Aesthetics Art Criticism. 51-70. And what about the beautiful? What kind of subject is implied by the object of aesthetic judgment? One of the most important defining features of aesthetic of is judgment. This activity is pleasurable in itself because it satisfies the mind's demand for coherence. the other is the object's cognitive opacity. view of the most insignificant things. the last stipulates that the judgment cannot be determined by something that satisfies a desire or lack. it relates to the sensory and mental activity occasioned by the object. Symbolist critical discourse would reinvent this aesthetic attitude by calling for a kind of poetry that avoided all personal obtrusion. and repeating this attention with such thought."inArtandThought. A later.J. The first two of these answer a rational demand. Both our ordering. Thierry Duve.

Need it involve craft? Is the signature of the artist or the work's location in a gallery sufficient to single out an object as art?Are aesthetic qualities necessary? Does a replica have the same value as the original work? Or does this distinction collapse in the face of the readymade?This reductive strategy puts pressure on our expectations of the artist's activity by erasing every trace of personal taste or expressive gesture."" And if the mechanically reproduced image can be understood as "disinterested. 90. place. Monet. Salvador Dali. "The Death of the Author. his particular tastes are. Duchamp's rendez-vousexactly this-a prearranged appointment (time. of the aesthetic to the appetitive.'4The readymade is a limit case that throws into sharp relief our deeply embedded expectations of a work of art.. 32. Stephen Heath (Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. day. 1986)." so also might the factory-made. The celebrated autonomy of the work of art. Its effect. Zeiss is the name of a German camera manufacturer. demands of painting itself. Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson (London: Thames and Hudson. is seen as locked in a struggle between "the specificity of urgent personal feeling and the impersonal. repr. Diego Velazquez." Searching for a way to accomplish this feat. For him."9 Mallarme is also the key figure in Roland Barthes's "The Death of the Author" (1968): "In France. Redon: and of Signs theGeneration Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975).The aim is to cut through stereotype and sentiment so as to discover what Mallarmeicalled "a strange new beauty.The question is no or longer. M." Salvador TheEarly Years Doli: (London: South BankCentre." The readymade can be ad seen as a limit case of the aesthetic-its near reductio absurdum-which forces us to reflect on the relation of art to the commodity. and in that sense abstract. 127. Roland Barthes." in Image/Music/Text. of Writings Marcel Duchamp. for us too. Manet looked to the Dutch and Flemish artists and to an artist who had absorbed their lessons. Afterthe End of Art. 47 art journal ."'2 8. I I. ignored.Duchamp pushed the logic of disinterestedness to such an extreme that it bites its own tail. 17. The artist's personal feeling. Arthur Danto has made this connection. implies the obliteration of the poet or painter in his or her medium. praised "the anaesthetic stare of the extremely clear eye-the lashless eye of Zeiss. absorbed. not the author. 14. See "Specificationfor 'Readymades"' in The Essential ed. in Penny Florence. Michael Fried invoked Mallarm6's essay to characterize the impersonal work of Morris Louis and his apparent "elocutionary disappearance.abstraction.p. 12." is Although much theory and practice after Duchamp has been aggressively andObjecthood: and and Essays Reviews (Chicago London: Chicago University Press. 9."'o Photography's "objective" vision of the world was also celebrated in these terms. noting that "Duchamp's anti-aesthetic carries with it an implicit anti-subjectivity which ') is to be found at the very heart of Kantian aesthetics. and Richard Wollheim. 10.famous for the quality if its lenses. "Is it beautiful?" even "Is it a painting?" but rather "Is it art?"De Duve follows a number of Anglo-American reflections on the aesthetic in light of the readymade. 216. Mallarme.. for the time being. for instance. in Art Readymade Characteristically. This strategy is compared by Duchamp to a "snapshot effect. n. The article was first published in Englishin Aspen Magazine 5/6 (1966). 1998). Salvador Dali. Mallarm6i was doubtless the first to see and to foresee in its full extent the necessity to substitute language itself for the person who until then had been supposed to be its owner. to be inscribed on the object that turns up for the rendezvous). 1977). Michael Fried."Jackson Pollock. and Visual Aural and Mallorm6. This is essentially what Thierry de Duve argues in Kantafter Duchamp. St6phane Mallarm6. it is language which speaks. Arthur Danto.8 In the early 197os." Manet was determined to paint "entirely without himself. its legacy for subsequent art was to shift the artistic "discursive field" away from questions about aesthetic experience and toward questions of what constitutes a work of art."The Impressionists and idouard Manet" (1876). To accomplish this.. it turns out. on the other hand. 1994).trans. includingthe writings of George Dickie. 13. certain processes are put in train to determine the form is or "choice" of the object. mechanization was understood as a way of cutting through the carapace of our habitual. It is fundamentally about the displacement of one's own agency so that something other can surface. interest-laden perceptions. 15. "Photography: Pure Creation in of the Mind. "MorrisLouis"(1971). Danto. mass-produced object-provided that it is denatured so as to neutralize its status as a commodity intended to satisfy desire. 12.

. It is well known that he distanced himself from the anti-art antics of Dada and TristanTzara.anti-aesthetic. "Serial System: Art. "That Thing . S." Arts 42. Ibid.Infinite Marcel Regress: Duchamp.SeeJoselit.: Press. the accepted were the deadly readymades that governed most art.: Press." He rightly concludes that what is presented is "another conception of the human subject. "SomeNotes on the The of for Phenomenology Painting: Search the Altered Motivated" (1970).31. Solipsism. Duchamp The ed. University 20." He described a situation in which photography had taken over the mimetic function of representation. Eliot: "The more perfect the artist the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the man who creates.1996). You know. 41." or in Robert Morris's practice of letting the materials determine form.. "It was a sort discussing of loophole.2" In an article about Pop called "That Old Thing Art . Duchamp's readymades were governed by the zero degree of aesthetics and aimed at a strange new beauty. the artist is witnessed. there is no such thing as "spontaneous 48 SUMMER 2004 . The difference is attributable to Breton's positioning the found object in a different space-the space of the unconscious. Pierre Cabanne.RonPadgett Da Duchamp. MIT de du entreavantResonances Readymade: Duchamp gardeet tradition (Nimes:Editions Jacqueline Chambon. But if one stresses another aspect of Kant's aesthetic. Pop."'7The visual indifference of mechanical drawing and the readymade was. however. for instance. Barthes's insistence on the asymmetry the relation betweenthe artist/ of authorandthe rebornviewer/readeris not sharedby allcommentators see the artist's who reticencemirrored an equally in desubjectivized responseto the work. (New andWang. 71-94. Modern 1945-2000 (Oxford: Oxford Press. the tasteful. and Conceptual art.Foran accountof the variety of Duchamp effects.200. In "The CreativeAct. 8 (Summer 1967): See also RobertMorris. might survive in some form in Surrealist art and writing. Found Object One can easily see how Kant'scharacterization of aesthetic judgment as disinterested could lead to the various desubjectivizing artistic practices I've mentioned. there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Duchamp understood his own work within the tradition of disinterested art.andThierry Duve. Effect. one that became a strategy for short-circuiting the imposition of subjectivity. one can also readily see how the aesthetic.'" The legacy of the Duchampian "disinterested" attitude can be seen in Minimalist.. Roland Barthes. 19. he remarked. Art in TheResponsibilityForms: Critical of on Essays Hill Music. in Mel Bochner's description of the way a logical system "excludes individual personality as much as possible. Breton called on both poets and painters to incorporate in their work the "precision of sensible forms. Mass.. In "SurrealistSituation of the Object" (1935)." noting that "the Pop artist doesn't stand behind the work.1985). David themselves followers"found readymade . taking up an aloof position outside the art/anti-art Continuous Project Mass. a development of one of the defining features of the aesthetic itself. Martha Buskirk Mignon and Nixon(Cambridge.1989). with 17. for example. MelBochner.The so-called Duchamp effect on the art of the later 196os and 1970s is now clear. The found object shares with the readymade a lack of obvious aesthetic quality and little intervention on the part of the artist beyond putting the object in circulation.." I wouldaddthatthey endeavored break the to mold. Mass.2000)." The habitual. and Joselit arguesthatDuchamp his 18.1998)." Barthes reprised the argument of "The Death of the Author.See.""9 When his early interest in mechanical drawing. and he himself has no depth. After Art. the initial perplexity and prelogical play in relation to the object that eludes our full understanding. . a way of escaping the weight of taste. This would not mean. 1910-1941 (Cambridge. for him. that painting would detach itself from external reality."2'While no direct line can be drawn between Kant'sdisinterestedness and Duchamp's aesthetic of indifference. so that Surrealist painting was forced to retreat to the domain of inner perception.see DavidHopkins. (New York: Capo Press.: Press. in fact." Duchamp approvingly cited T. MIT 197. Magazine no. MIT Daily (Cambridge. modified through Freud.1987)..138. defined as "a repetition of something already accepted." Old 21.As Breton said.. I want to draw out this continuity in relation to Breton's conception of the found object. my argument nonetheless indicates that the so-called anti-aesthetic tradition in twentieth-century art is. Dialogues Marcel trans.'9 The elocutionary disappearance of 16. I've always felt the need to escape myself. andRepresentation York: Art. but in almost every other respect it is dissimilar..1993). in caught endlesseconomyor reproduction.

25. Alan Sheridan (London: Penguin Books. For Kant. 13. 1987). took on."2 Breton described the trouvaille a solution found not by logical means.: MITPress. Breton." Freudian theory enabled Breton to overcome the gap between internal and external domains. On a visit to a Paris flea market with the sculptor. He suggests that Breton's conception of the found object anticipates Lacan'sobjet a-the lost object which petit sets desire in motion and which. at a certain height. 1993). The traumatic subject is not the personal self that was so strenuously avoided in the tradition of disinterested art. Mad Love. Breton lit on a curious wooden spoon with a little boot carved under its handle and carried it off. it "mediated relations between external nature. Andr6 Breton. 1972)."24 un in The object found as if by chance is situated at the point of connection between external nature. defined precisely as an experience that has failed to achieve a representation. and one that as differs completely from what is anticipated. with the help of the curvature of the handle. generation" in mental reality. 1973). 3-66. as Steven Harris nicely puts it. nonetheless. 27.23 Like Kant. perception. Hal Foster. Andr6 Breton. however. Rather. R. For the modern materialist Breton. Steven Harris. also. 24.livre XI (Editions du seuil. 272. Breton wanted Alberto Giacometti to make him a literal.27 I think. but are laced with desire and death. Breton saw art as a means of overcoming the breach between mind and world. he demonstrates clearly that they do not represent simple wish fulfillments. "In any case. This is the published version of Lacan's Seminar XI. the relation is established by external reality's effects on the psyche: "Chance would be the form taken by external reality as it traces a path (se fraie chemin) the human unconscious. but on which. This may sound as though I'm contrasting the found object with the readymade in terms of a subjectivity/antisubjectivity polarity. in Manifestoes of Surrealism. that Lacan'selusive object is actually modeled on Breton's found object."''26In his book Compulsive Beauty. it was the beautiful object's formal purposiveness that gestured toward the idea of a "prearranged"harmonious relation of mind to its objects. and the unconscious. "SurrealistSituation of the Object" (1935). paradoxically. Seaver and H. Jacques-Alain Miller. but the matter is not so simple. Surrealist images and objects are like the "visual residues" from past experience that turn up in dreams. delivered in 1964. material instantiation of the but perplexing phrase Cinderella-ashtray (Cendrillon-cendrier). 28. 1977). perception and the unconscious. Compulsive Beauty (Cambridge. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of MichiganPress. Only when he got the object home did it transform itself into the object of his desire: "It was clearly changing right under my eyes. and thus has a peculiar. TheFour Fundamental of in Concepts Psycho-Analysis. because." Collapse4 (May 1999): 60. the little wood spoon coming out of its handle. 18. tandem one can see how they both circle around Freud's Beyond Pleasure the and. The example of the marvelous slipper-spoon is most telling. however. elusive relation to vision. Reading Breton's MadLove (1937) and Jacques Lacan's 1964 seminar. vol. how deeply influenced Principle Lacan was by Breton's notion of the objet trouve trouvaille or (found object). Breton. MaryAnn Caws (Lincoln:University of Nebraska Press. one's whole existence depends. what is delightful here is the dissimilarity itself which exists between the object wished for and the Hal object found. 26. trans. it was not forthcoming. The FourFundamental Concepts ed.trans.trans. Translationof Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse. Standard Editionof the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud. From the side. Beyondthe PleasurePrinciple (1920)."28 49 art journal . What kind of subject is implied by the found object? I would suggest a Lacanian one. The space occupied by the found object is carved out by traumatic experience. Mad Love. Boththat tradition and Surrealism were interested in the displacement of the artist's agency. "The Chain of Glass: RethinkingBreton's Concept of Objective Chance. Foster has analyzed in some detail the passages in MadLove about the two key trouvailles-awooden spoon and a metal mask. R.33. Sigmund Freud. Mad Love. I will argue that this object calls attention to itself by creating a hole in the fabric of normal perception. Mass. of Psycho-Analysis. represents both a hole in the integrity of our world and the thing that comes to hide the hole. the aspect of a heel and the whole object presented the silhouette of a slipper on tiptoe like those of dancers. Jacques Lacan. 25.22. 23.

no. in our folklore. and DACS. called punningly by Lacanle sujet troue (the subject full of holes). as does the following remark from Seminar III. "It is just what. London. The Psychoses." the opaque." Barthes emphasized the photograph's intimate connection with the object. it is not susceptible to the criticism that it revives a nostalgia for lost immediacy or presence. 36. 3 1. The allusions in his early writings to personality and to the style of the subject attest to this. 1993). In effect. with the introduction of objet petita. as I argue. ungraspable. 1991).The contrast between the Duchampian rendezvous and the Bretonian encounter should now be clear. and mass-produced. according to Breton. ed. an ectoplasm. enabled him to finish his sculpture L'Objet invisible. anamorphic subject. 184. Cinderella's glass slipper.'"29the reflection in the mirror is the prototype of all images of the If ego. The "There is. Ibid. Throughout his career. in effect.Yet. raphy with one hand in the pages of Lacan'sFour Concepts. a reality one can no longer touch.Seminar Book III. uses an objet trouve found (a object) to figure both the hole and the bit that's missing. As I have argued elsewhere. something radically unassimilable to the signifier. takes on the meaning of the lostobject."From a little shoe that was part of it S1934. Jacques Lacan. found by Giacometti on the same occasion and which. Treading carefully. resolves into a skull "from the side. and both lost and found."32 referentiality A ghost of referentialiy is exactly what Barthes invoked in his Camera Lucida. RichardHoward (New York: Hill and Wang. 179. for instance. 168. Lacan recast Freud's conception of trauma in terms of the Surrealist encounter. barred. @ 2004 Man RayTrust/ ADAGP. 3 (September 1994): 450-63. Like the anamorphic skull in Hans Holbein's painting The which Ambassadors. 32. split. Black-and-white photograph published in Andr6 Breton. Lacan. Psychoses: It's quite simply the subject's singular existence.While the readymade is essentially indifferent. Lacan insisted that there was something about the subject not captured in the articulations of language or in a series of imaginary captivations. This subject. The FourFundamentalConcepts."3' The mark of the subject's singularity is objet petita. then he must also have borrowed the Surrealist notion of the encounter for his conception of la rencontre manqu&e (missed or failed encounter).30 The slippery spoon of love has its counterpart. then this contradictory. 1981). Lacan allowed "the ghost of to regain admission to his scheme. since objet a cannot become an object of consciouspetit ness and is unspecularizable. Malcolm Bowie. trans.. the mask of death. Mad Love. where he stressed the greater importance for photography of chemistry rather than the camera obscura: it is light-sensitive paper that gives the photograph its essential nature as a "that-has-been. See my "What Is a Photograph?"in Art History 17. Lacan formulated his idea of the object of desire with Breton's If.Man Ray. 87. in short. The found object is encountered and the effect is traumatic. CameraLucida:Reflectionson Photography (1980). 33. 29. multiple.1955-56. in trouvaille mind. the found object is essentially singular or irreplaceable. Roland Barthes. Barthes formulated his idea of the subject's relation to photogFundamental 33He argued. Malcolm Bowie remarks that. incomprehensible spoon is suddenly transformed into the lustrous lost object par excellence. that the defining characteristic of photography is its attachment to 50 SUMMER 2004 . 30. at a certain height. Paris. attesting to the reality of the thing-but a reality in a past state. Jacques-AlainMiller(New York and London: Routledge. fleeting object is the prototype for images of the castrated. Lacan(London: Fontana.

4. matte and somehow stupid. The panels of Corpus. in its indefatigable expression."interview with JuliCarson.Post-Partum Document. (20 x 25. One artist whose work has always been a touchstone for my thinking is Mary Kelly. indeed. 1998). and ink. photography.36The Introductionto Document.. has a privileged relation to this blind spot. photography. white card. 1973. but also traumatic/real. wool vests. of great importance in Surrealist circles. casting a shadow. 35.. See my "Visualizing Unconscious: Mary Kelly'sInstallations. making them more akin to found Part have the same significance. crossed out. by the lines of Lacan'sdiagram of intersubjectivity. Mary Kelly. ea. then photography is a fascinatingly ambivalent medium: not only readymade/simulacral."34 Tuch' experienced by the subject as a is as a trauma-an encounter with a real beyond the pleasure painful intrusion.. principle. Detail. the Surrealist clothing served as a model of the image panels for Corpus. 51 art journal .. Occasion. middle age is conceived as a moment of loss in relation to one's sense of Interim. and aesthetics beyond the pleasure principle on the work of two contemporary artists. what Lacan calls Tuche. 34. Kelly spoke about how she regarded her installation Post-Partum Document polemically as related to the work of British Conceptual artists. In the first part of Camera also called by him "petite tache" (little mark or stain) -a reference to Lacan'sblind spot in the orthodox perceptual field also called the stain and defined as "that which always escapes from the grasp of that form of vision that is satisfied with itself in imagining itself as consciousness. Kelly produced a similar effect by using semitransparent laminated photo positives applied to Perspex panels so as to emphasize these objects' peculiar relation to visibility. 35For Barthes.37 involuntary sculptures were These close-up photographs photographed on glass and subjected to a raking light so that they seem to hover just above the ground. Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton. 186.38 Kelly gives us a clue about what she found valuable in these Surrealist Mary Kelly. in Mary Kelly:RereadingPost-Partum Document (Vienna: Generali Foundation. whose interrogation of the object was not followed up by an interrogation of the subject. takes the form of tiny baby vests crossed. the the Real. 1997). the Encounter.5 cm). like the found object. the Lucida. 75. If this is so. Four units. 8 x I0 in. Ibid. Ibid. the This . Mary Kelly I now want to focus my discussions of the found object. Introduction. real is located in a detail.In a recent interview. The posed articles of clothing refer to the neuropathologist Jean Martin Charcot's famous photographs of hysterics. Minotaure3/4 (December 1933): 68 the 38. images that relate formally most closely to the Corpus panels are Brassai'sstrange of Sculptures involontaires. a punctum. their psychic value and relation to loss is obvious. Courtesy of the artist. pencil. but formally they resemble the photograph in Breton's Nadja of a bronze paperweight in the form of a woman's glove. Perspex units. identity as a woman. 36. I of Interim."in Mary Kelly(London: Phaidon. 37."the absolute Particular. this traumatic real. in short. Although the vests are readymade and arranged serially.the sovereign Contingency. 32-85."Excavating Post-Partum Document. This isolated article of However. In objects. this hole. 1973.


opposite: Mary Kelly.Thirty panels. Courtesy of the artist. billet d'autobus roul6. NewYork.. Nadja. 35 x 48 in.. Black-and-white photograph.N. 1984-85. silkscreen.M. 53 art journal . and acrylic on Plexiglas. " in Andr6 Breton. Laminated photo positive. R. 1928. Anonymous. Interim.. Published with caption "Gant de femme aussi .5 cm). @ Estate Brassai.Brassai.. Gant de femme aussi. 65). Sculpture involontaire. 65.(p. ea. Photograph of bronze glove belonging to a woman. Part I: Corpus. 1932. (90 x 122. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.

with SixYears: Demoaterialization from1966 The of Art to 1972 (Berkeley: of Press. A slice of clay is removed from the base of a traditionally conceived sculpture. Mary Desire. 43. Ibid. 44."Surrealist Situation the Object.II. not to a surface." Kelly. if sculpture were opened up and we moved inside it? Then the relation would be inverted. blurinvolving encounter I ringthe distinctionwishto preservebetween rendezvous encounter.4 This idea is reminiscent of Lacan'sinverted perspective But Fundamental of diagram in TheFour Concepts Psycho-Analysis.1992. which traditionally has its center of gravity in its base. I (September 2000): 173. in material form. 39. Kelly positions her objects in an ambiguous space between external nature." a realm where "vanishing points are determined. A fragmentary note reads: "Photography as a hole."44This object is the inverse of sculpture. perception. one can find jottings that help to explicate this puzzling phrase. What would happen. Photogravity. It would seem to have some relation to his idea of the "expectant (or waiting) object. picking up marks and debris. University California 1997). Minimalist Imagination: Figurative.See LucyLippard. Gabriel Orozco There is a wonderful catalogue of an exhibition of Gabriel Orozco's work held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1999." 39." he also required that these objects be detached from the domain of perception-consciousness.TheSculptural Modernist.4' Reproduced in the volume. obliterated vanishing point. of Philadelphia 42.42But may say. The Zizek citation follows remarks on Kazimir Malevich's BlackSquare (1915). there is another page in the notebook where Orozco has jotted down a quotation from Slavoj Zizek's Looking Zizek is largely responsible Awry.: Press. but by the laws of primary process.47 for the mediation to a wider audience of Lacan'slater work. Orozco asks. a ball of plasticine that has been rolled through the street. and the unconscious. The sculpture is thrown away and the slice of clay spread out on the ground and flipped over so we can see the imprint of this opened-out.46For the most part. where he developed the idea of the real as a register of the psychic reality set in relation to the imaginary and the symbolic."39These filmy items of clothing are adrift in the realm of lost objects. not by geometry. the vanishing point. 8.precedents when she contrasts the function of perspective construction with another kind of picture found in "the realm of lost objects.. fragments of pages of the artist's notebooks. but we can be pretty sure this is a first stab at what was to become Yielding Stone. called are Box. Orozco. While he encouraged poets and painters to incorporate the "precision of sensible forms..40Carefully choosing her materials and formal devices. some of his work and notes point in another direction.40. 1999). whose very emblem is the checkerboard-tiled pavement. (New Haven: YaleUniversity Press. Interview CarlAndre." of 272. but by what is real for the subject. and "Gabriel Orozco. Orozco had to accomplish this inversion in space. the spectator would become the object of sight. See alsoAlex Potts. 54 SUMMER 2004 . 46." which points toward an idea of sculpture as a rupture in the continuum of space. Breton. Black Kites (i997) also seems to play on a collapse of Renaissance perspective. MIT (Cambridge 1996)..2000). On the same page is a sketch for just such a projected nonsculpture. now anamorphically stretched and distorted around a death's head. Gabriel Orozco. 45. We are not far from CarlAndre's floor pieces and his gnomic remark "A thing is a hole in a thing it is not. points linked. David Orozco'sworkas Joselitdescribes an withthe readymade. 40."43Elsewhere in the notes.54. Artforum no.36. 47.Photogravity (Philadelphia: Museum Art. Ibid.This is consistent with Breton's call for artists to use real objects in their work. "Desiring Images/Imaging inImaging Desire Mass. but to a place-the unconscious-and not by means of light. All very Green you and Duchamp is undoubtedly an important figure for Orozco. cut off from symbolically articulated reality. 122. Orozco. making them like the "visual residues" that turn up in dreams. If my allusion to Lacan in the context of Orozco's work seems farfetched. 41. Orozco's notes aren't dated. 312ff.

48 If Kelly shows us the object's proximity to that central lack.1998. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. on the threshold of visibility or invoke an absence or photographs present objects past moment in time.I993. Extension Reflection.5 cm). parexcellence.the Thing that gives body to the substance of enjoyment) i." See.Gabriel Orozco. (the Lacanian dasDing. the ripple in water. of 1992. for example. NewYork. In this way. diam. by the change of the status of the Real into that of a central lack. 132. 1992.. by the exclusion of the Real. are expectant objects. Orozco's photograph of a found Zen drawing done with rain water for ink and bicycle wheels for a brush. 19 in. The "reality" (white background surface. Slavoj Zizek. Collection Walker Art Center. Yielding Stone. 19. the "liberated nothingness." the open space in which nothingness can appear) obtains its consistency only by means of the "black hole" in its center. then Orozco wants to show us the unrepresentable threshold itself: the next-to-nothing.e. 55 art journal . His Breath Piano. In short. Orozco heightens photography's that-has-been 48. Plasticine and dust. and London: Verso. Looking An to Awry: Introduction Jacques LacanthroughPopularCulture(Cambridge. Mass. "photography as a hole. The Waiting These Chairs. (48. "the wake of an action. Minneapolis..2 Ibs (60 kg). 1991). shows a smoky patch of condensation on the cool black suron face of the piano." as he puts it.

56 SUMMER 2004 .

Edition of 5. is of of She Margaret University Essex. Iversen Professor Art History.Gabriel Orozco. We saw that the modernist tradition of disinterested art displaced subjectivin favor of the medium.England. the effect of Duchamp's (postmodern?) intervention ity was to expand the idea of medium to include the whole institution of art. NewYork.8 cm). with its systematic work of negation and testing of the limits of what counts as art. elusive object that sets into play the senses. (40. it retains the value Kant placed on the engagement with an opaque. However. SlavojZizek.6 x 50. 57 art journal . Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. Edition of 5. punctuated as it is with holes leading down to the unconscious. alsoedited(withDana Kelly Art Arnold) andThought.The desubjectivizing strategy of the readymade. character.ed. C-print.8 cm). loss and memory. Gabriel Orozco. Breath on Piano. ElizabethWright and Edmond Wright (Oxford: Blackwells. Extension of Reflection. love and death. has sustained art practice for most of the last century and continues to do so. 49. with regard to cultural theory: "The celebrated postmodern 'displacement' of subjectivity rather exhibits an unreadiness to come to terms with the truly traumatic core of the modern subject. Yet the dominance of the Duchamp effect may have blinded us to the legacy of the found object. As Zizek so pithily put it. and understanding. 1992. 1993. 1999).but also generalizes it to include the whole texture of our experience of the world.The examples of Mary Kelly and Gabriel Orozco show that there is a wealth of art that breaks the self-critical circle and opens itself to wider issues of subjectivity and sociality. imagination. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. C-print. 16 x 20 in. NewYork. (40. 16 x 20 in. "Burning Bridges.6 x 50. ix. which is less visible and less concerned with reflecting on and undermining the conventions and institutions of art."in The the Zizek Reader. is the authorof Alois Riegl: ArtHistory Theory Mary and and She and (withDouglasCrimp HomiBhabha)."4My proposal for an aesthetic beyond the pleasure principle is aimed at approaching that core and so sets about complicating the tradition of Kantian disinterestedness and the displacement or effacement of subjectivity implied by the reiteration of the readymade.