Hyperallergic

Plucking something — anything — out of its original context, placing it in a different setting and letting whatever new meanings or implied meanings emerge from the unexpected juxtaposition: such an “appropriationist” gesture lies at the core of postmodernist art-making “strategies.” Often the results of such moves are new ideas or new aesthetic propositions, the essence of which is almost always, in some way, self-consciously ironic. Get it?

This routine has been going on indefatigably for almost a century, ever since Marcel Duchamp placed his “readymades” — an industrially manufactured, porcelain urinal; a metal bottle-drying rack — in exhibition settings and called such objects “art.” Duchamp’s actions also helped spawn an outlook or attitude, according to which anything one might stumble upon or choose to observe may be regarded not for what it is or purports to be (or say) but rather, when viewed with a certain irony-fueled, “transgressive” sense of detachment, as something bemusingly “other” than what it is or purports to be.

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