My practice-led research project “Neither Subject nor Object”: Reciprocal Readymade in Times of Useful Art explores ‘use value’ of art in the context of site specific interventions. The investigation examines the intersection of art and society, collective approaches to art making, the relationship between art and nature and the use of exaggeration and absurdity as a tool to convey serious subjects.
The reciprocal readymade, a Marcel Duchamp idea of recycling art into objects of utility, as opposed to the standard readymade which recycled functional objects into art, has been re-introduced to the contemporary art discourse in relation to the ‘use-value’ of art and socially engaged art projects by art critic and theorist Stephen Wright. Wright’s interpretation of the reciprocal readymade sets aside a direct link between the object and the reciprocal readymade, proposing an explanation directed exclusively towards the exchange of ideas. My PhD work aims to challenge that by re-establishing the link to Duchamp and to interpret the reciprocal readymade at its face value.
My research methodology combines theoretical, largely art historical enquiry with two activities that I am engaged in as an artist: my studio work, dedicated to the exploration of the ‘use value’ of objects in the context of failure and collaborative projects. This practice-led PhD is aimed at merging all elements of my activity as an artist in one site specific performative work. The case study project sits on the interchange between rural and urban environments and tackles the superficiality of representation of ‘white bear’ that in new incarnations has been posing for photographs with tourists in Zakopane, Poland since the 1930s.
The absurd popularity of ‘white bear’ confronted with the brown bear (Ursus Arctos), a local endangered species has triggered the project’s main axis related to the question if art can be useful to transform the way people think and behave. I am looking for an answer to that question by applying my subjective, specifically female, gendered perspective to the relationship between art and nature. The material object in my project is the costume of ‘white bear’, its function changing when influenced by the subjectivity of its wearer.