18 August 2012

"The constitution of identity within an assemblage of (self) quotations – it had been one of Benjamin's imaginary projects, as Arendt mentions, to write a book that consisted entirely of quotations – is the historical reality of Duchamp's La Boîte en Valise.
The strategy of assembling a work from quotations seems to sign over the individual producer's acts of decision and choice, self-determination and material transformation in social interaction to a totality of inescapable predicaments: those of the discourse, those of the conditions of reception, those of the social institution within which the production and reception are historically contained. In the work's attempt to dissolve reification within the very medium and site where they are produced, in the necessity to mimetically anticipate its subjection to ideology by inscribing itself as precisely as possible into those very systems that determine its historical status, it seems to fail to maintain any claim for autonomy and rupture in favour of a complacent, melancholic and passive contingency upon the conditions of rule that it set out to disrupt. It is no mere coincidence or irony of history that Joseph Cornell, the master of that quietism, who spent a life on the perpetual repetition of that ritual entombment of quotations from a vanishing world, whose claim for historical legitimacy and demand for interacting presence were literally reduced to the box-sized space – self determination at its ultimate level of interiority – was actively involved in the assembling and production of the first edition of Marcel Duchamp's La Boîte en Valise. Yet in Duchamp's case, the box is more mundane, a traveller's item rather than a shrine of contemplation, and the quotations that it contains are strictly referring to the artist's own past and historical production, thus keeping the fetishization at bay and retaining some of its original duplicity in regard to the demand of the mythification process of culture."

—Benjamin Buchloch, The Museum Fictions of Marcel Broodthaers

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