A: Lost or found, recycled, laboured, fabricated or invented, produced or gazed, the object inhabits the centre of the concerns, practices and discourses in contemporary arts, and...
V: No, no, no, I mean, yes indeed, but would you want to start like this? Is the object nothing but itself? Well, sorry, do continue.
A: The crisis and dissatisfaction regarding the object’s limits gave place to a renewed necessity of allocating processuality and performativity in the exchange cast, as well as to the need of devices and presentation formats based on situations and relationships between producers, expectants, participants, translators – within the universe of the artists, the market, the public and the culture factories.
V: The question isn’t new.
A: Ok, I understood.
V: Say it, then!
A: We have to go further back. The attempts to reach the generality of the object’s theme, even with regard to the history of art, seem to go first through a theory of knowledge that defines object as the thing which stands before the cognizant subject, which must reveal its «secrets», be analysed, mastered, classified, asepticised and must become independent and detached from the subject. This context of lore creates a relationship of knowledge supposedly neutral towards the object. Therefore, the latest would not be active, effective or threatening, and wouldn’t participate in our life’s dynamics. Consequently, we really cannot be transformed by it. But if on the contrary, it was a place of imagination?
V: The object or the subject?
V: No, no, it’s not possible.
A: Well, seen from outside, you seem to have, such as the ones that say nay, such as the ones that interrupt, you seem to have a character that intervenes with a hint of something more and, nevertheless…
V: … don’t we both know that what is expected from an editorial «object» is to summarize the juice of the thing that is about to follow? Yes. So, would you like to summarize it, or should I?
A: Well, the futurists in their own way managed to set in motion the machine and then in the 60s and 70s, they started to exchange the canvas for the body, the gallery space for the street, the experimental curatorial practice gained impulse, the action became…
V: ...do you really want to speak about that?
A: Yes, that is to say, although we know that later it would become documentation assimilated into the fetish of the archive, materialized as history and as a workable piece of art, subject to be sold, subject to be exhibited in a showcase of a prestigious museum or into the white cube of a gallery.
What we definitely know is that we cannot reduce it to its status of object of knowledge and to turn it into an inanimate thing that would only give satisfaction and pleasure to its user or to the one that studies it. The objet is always, in fact, an active participant in artistic events, an expressive and living actor who plays a particular role in the inter-subjective, active and inter-affective relationships. It will never be finished, immobile or closed, always remaining in a continuously open becoming.
V: We are evading from the point.
A: The worst thing is that you’re right.
V: How come?
A: Aware of the editorial’s format, you want to escape from it, being itself a dispositive, a construction, an object that doesn’t benefit us.
V: Do you think anyone reads editorials?
A: A few do, but there is always that «cereal box effect», you always end up reading it, still half asleep, with the mouth full.
V: Now yes, you too!
A: This morning I went out to buy some bread. I stopped in the street and saw an elderly man walking slowly with a box under his arm. The carton contained a brand new toaster.
A: Look at one of the artists we interviewed for this issue, for example (Mike Hentz), perhaps he summarizes well this question about the economy that surrounds the object. He explains that he divides his action into the three following thirds: 1. dealing with the immense archive (catalogue, exhibition, alienation of the work, etc); 2. creating a flatware which he describes as a money printing machine (art and graphic work sales); 3. originate situations of experimentation in closed environments with small groups of individuals, where he can still explore new ways to create culture collectively.
V: I didn’t get the story about the toaster… But anyway, at the end what does the work of art really have to do with the notion of object?
A: Whether it is painting or sculpture, architecture, photography, performance, music or poetry, emptiness is perhaps the key to understand its origin, its medium, its outcome. Rhythm is what gives shape to such void or nothingness. Let’s just say that art has so much to do with existence, presence and elusiveness, and so little with the pure realm of the objects thought as prehensile tools or as means of exchange and value. Art is not just another object in the infinite accumulation and network of things. It’s an irruption, a radiance, a resplendence. As a French philosopher once wrote, the work of art «is not an object. It exists. It exists out-of-itself, in itself and farther».
V: Ok. Let’s go, then.
^ Henri Maldiney, Art et Existence. Paris: Klincksieck, 2003.
Bruno Humberto & Katherine Sirois – Editores visitantes / Visiting editors of Wrg Wrg #8