Marie-Andrée Pellerin: The Failed Attempt to Get Rid of the Art Object ~ What's Going On In The Magma Chamber?

Arnhem, July 2015


"The Failed Attempt to Get Rid of the Art Object" looks at the role and status of the art object, considered within the legacy of Conceptual Art and its attempts towards dematerialisation. It draws a parallel with the inevitable commodification of the art object, taking into account art's autonomy being a mere illusion. This thesis questions the nature of objecthood around the art object. It looks rather at the way the art object approaches us through Heidegger's concept of thingness. It proposes to resist the temptation to fossilise the art object in what Baudrillard describes as a mythological object, and instead to look at it as an active but temporary vessel for thought.

This thesis puts on the table a proposal to use the volcanic magma chamber as a metaphorical figure in order to promote a continual re-articulation of matter, instead of this finite and fetishised model of the art object. Matter exists before us and can't disappear or vaporise, even in our most furious attempts to get rid of it. To postulate for a more organic lifecycle for the art object would enable it to be removed from this cult of preservation and to allow it to degrade just as much as the other objects around us. Drawing a parallel with Latour's concept of iconoclash, the objects' performativity should be more ambiguous in nature, seeking simultaneous construction and destruction (like the volcanic activity). Towards the end, this object-oriented approach is put aside and the hands at work in the making become the center of attention. Could the artists' ways of working with matter be ways with which to distance themselves from the quest for profitability and efficiency in the capitalist culture?