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Nothing is at home

Malte Fabian Rauch

Phenomena in Exile
Undoing Objects in the Work of Duchamp, Schürmann and Sturtevant

Published: 26.10.2018

Philosophy is found wanting. It is considered anachronistic, some say dead. The tradition is in ruins. And, what is worse, they say, these are ruins of its own making. But it bears noting that debris has proved to be a productive site. For finding things.

Marcel Duchamp’s work, for example, can make an appearance as a phenomenology. And phenomenology itself, for another example, can dispel its origin, the transcendental subject – Kant’s old doublet. What this adds up to is a phenomenology of entropy and singularization, one that has very little to with things such as the “phenomenological viewer” of minimalist sculpture. These are the things that one indeed encounters in Reiner Schürmann’s Broken Hegemonies, his topology of ruins in reverse. The ruins are theoretical as much as political, they are the debris of all those fractured edifices of meaning that once reigned supreme in the name of law and order. And only toward the end of this history of the decay of standards can Duchamp make his appearance.1 On pages that are haunted by urgency, that speak of a definitive end. And an opaque possibility. They are written by a thinker who showed little interest in what is called aesthetics, art theory, or even the philosophy of art. His is a philosophy of anarchy, but one that goes further, or maybe elsewhere, than what is usually associated with that name. He was not an expert on Duchamp. Most certainly not. But he comes close to concluding his last book with a note on Duchamp, gathering a lifetime of thinking about phenomenology into a meditation on the readymade: the phenomenon that is said to eliminate the uniqueness of the artwork, displacing it with the indifference of the mass-fabricated objects, with the logic of the n’importe quoi. What could Duchamp possibly have to say to him? Giorgio Agamben, for one, hints at a strange link between Schürmann, in proximity to whom he has frequently located his own investigations, and the artistic avantgardes of the twentieth century.2 But the link remains unexplored by him, the reference to Duchamp goes unmentioned.

Under the Sign of Exile

Duchamp appears under the sign of exile. His act, Schürmann writes, “exiles and singularizes,” and by and through this exile, he reveals a tendency that is latent in all phenomena, a loss of meaning that is always imminent.3 There is a “spirit of expatriation” that Duchamp considered to be his.4 Yet his inclination for exile, his aversion against what is home and proper, is generally understood in biographical terms, not in the sense Schürmann wants to give to the word “exile,” let alone in the sense of the originary “dislocation and delocalization” he speaks of.5 These are terms related to the way in which phenomena are said to manifest, to present themselves. They denote a latency, they bespeak an alterity.

The phenomenon Schürmann refers to is Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel” from 1913, his first readymade. Duchamp, the ironically meticulous archivist of his own practice, would later call it an “assisted readymade,” as opposed to his “unassisted” ones, because it was made of two pre-farbricated objects, a kitchen chair and a bicycle wheel. In 1913, however, it had not yet been called a “readymade” at all, it was not yet of age, it was still without name. He just enjoyed looking at it, Duchamp said. He liked to spin the wheel and watch it turn. Round and round. For want of a fireplace. For want of dancing flames. A name it would receive eventually. But this would happen only slightly later, after Duchamp had arrived in New York. In a letter to his sister from January 15, 1916, he wrote: “if you have been to my place, you will have seen, in the studio, a bicycle wheel and a bottle rack. I bought this as a ready-made sculpture [sculpture toute faite]. […] You know enough English to understand the meaning of ‘ready-made’ that I give these objects. […] Don’t tear your hair out trying to understand this in the Romantic or Cubist or Impressionist sense – it has nothing to do with all that.”6 But Suzanne had already thrown the ‘original’ version into the trash when she was cleaning up his place, wasting no time wondering about the wheel’s relation to Cubism or Impressionism. So Duchamp made a new version in the new city, and he had Henri-Pierre Roché take a photo of it, which he would later include in the Boîte-en-valise. The wheel, dislodged from its place, mounted on a stool in Duchamp’s studio, surrounded by several of the modest and dysfunctional comrades he had assembled. But this version was lost as well. Many were. These were no originals and they were not treated as such. Schürmann does not speak of the work’s pre- or post-history. Only of exile. And for him, the act of exiling consists, precisely, of mounting a wheel on a stool and exhibiting it. Yet it would actually take a long time until the bicycle wheel would be exhibited, and longer still until it would find its way into a museum.7 These questions – the question of the work’s history and of its relation to the museum – will return later, and they will do so with a vengeance.

First, however, the question of exile. Phenomena are located within a world, where they have their place, their proper place. As such, they are meaningful. They signify, are such and so: “A bicycle wheel is made for turning around a greased axis, held in a metal fork and serving the purpose of locomotion. ‘Yes’ to that object of spokes and a rim when it composes a world, contextualized between the asphalt on which it advances and the cars between which it allows you to thread your way.”8 In fulfilling its function, a phenomenon is at home in a world; it is situated, meaningful. Yet there is tendency in each phenomenon that pulls it in an opposite direction. Away from the world. Away from meaning. Towards the void: “But a No traverses its phenomenalization as the possibility of a being dislodged, a dislodging that here exiles it to a stool in an exposition and that singularizes it there.” Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel,” Schürmann suggests, reveals this very tendency, the liability of phenomena to “suffer expulsion from their world,” thus demonstrating that “dispossession is always imminent, that full possession never happens.” One has to hear the relentless opposition expressed in these lines to what Heidegger wanted to see in the artwork: the “opening up” of a world, the setting back of the world “onto the earth” – the entire jargon of the “homeland.”9 Nothing is at home. What Schürmann sees in “Bicycle Wheel,” is an un-worlding of things. An absolute loss of the proper. He calls this loss “singularization,” a vector of disruption and entropy, an exile prior to, a foreignness more originary than any proper place. And if one were to speculate as to why Schürmann chose “Bicycle Wheel” rather than one of the unassisted readymades, one might think of the decontextualized spinning of the wheel in the void – a dislocated, singularized, exiled rotation.

Singularization ruins meaning. It is what some philosophers traditionally called “negativity,” but Schürmann avoids this term because of its history, preferring to speak of the verbal negation, “No,” and sometimes even of “nothingness.” These are ideas that also greatly occupied Duchamp during his time in New York, when he was experimenting with nominalism, non-signification and nothingness. “Dislocations of thought / Deformations,” reads one of the notes from this time, evoking one of the terms Schürmann liked to use.10 And this is no abstract concept, either. No, for Schürmann, the phenomenological place of singularization is death, and the force of singularization is ultimately temporal, the openness and pure potentiality of time itself. It is the contraction of time in the face of death, an intensification that singularizes all givens and renders precarious all experience: “Nothingness and the No are immanent to the world as is a possibility, thus they are imminent.” Phenomenologically, singularization therefore is always “to come.” As are depth and destitution. – What, so one may ask, is then the relation of meaning and its loss, of exile and world? Together, these vectors form what Schürmann calls a phenomenological “double bind.”

Without a Common Name

Schürmann takes the concept of the “double bind” from the psychologist Gregory Bateson, who proposed it for the first time in 1957, within the context of a thesis about an experiential component involved in the genesis and etiology of schizophrenia. This was a serious matter, a question of science. Structurally, Bateson argues, grounding his argument in a psychological transposition of Russell’s early type theory, schizophrenia consists in an avalanche of logical categories, a meltdown of the level of abstractions. The experience that is assumed to cause this state is a conflict in which no right response exists, where one is confronted with opposed demands, and where it is impossible to respond correctly. Schizophrenia, Bateson suggests, is an adaptation to this situation, a habit that forms in the wake of a repeated exposure to such conditions within the context of the family. For Schürmann, this is not a question of social psychology, nor one of communication, and it is certainly not a family affair. It is a question of phenomenology and, ultimately, of politics. But Schürmann saw something in Bateson’s model he liked. He saw something that was of utmost importance for what he was trying to say. He saw that in Bateson’s formal structure, there is, first, an injunction that decrees a rule, then, second, one that decrees a rule in conflict with the first, and, finally, a third injunction “prohibiting the victim from escaping from the field” constituted by the first two.11 Obviously the double bind is a theory of conflict and contradiction. And Schürmann knew that, as such, it has a formal structure that cannot but evoke, mock, call out dialectics. For it is a peculiar kind of contradiction, a schizophrenic, an entropic dialectic, some would say a negative dialectic. No possible progress, no possible solution, no common genus. Dissonance. The double bind speaks of a difference that cannot be solved by identity, of an opposition that persists. Schürmann will call it differend.12

Such are the reasons why the term is important for Schürmann, as it is for several French theorists who are close to his concerns. In the writings of Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida and Lyotard, Bateson’s concept left its trace, and it is a revealing one. (Foucault, always the literalist, uses it as well, but without systematic intent, retaining the colloquial sense of ‘no-win’ situation it had acquired in English.13) For within this theoretical context, the notion speaks to a shared aversion to a dialectics of opposition and identity, towards a theory of progress through negation, to all those doubles of Idealism that haunted philosophy for so long. Of course they all had an issue with Hegel. A brief genealogy of the double bind therefore offers a monadic view of the interest in a non-binary concept of difference that Schürmann shared with his French contemporaries.

Curiously, Deleuze and Guattari were reluctant at first. But not for long. They draw critically on Bateson in Anti-Oedipus, arguing that the double bind provides the logic for Oedipus. But they would go on to use the term in the “Geology of Morals” plateau in a different way: “God,“ they write, “is a Lobster or a double pincer, a double bind.” And this is because: “Each stratum exhibits phenomena constitutive of double articulation. Articulate twice, B-A, A-B.”14 The double bind, as a form of double articulation, describes, for them, the self-organization of matter into different, never stable or consistent strata, each of which is irreducibly constituted through a double articulation of both matter and form. For Derrida, the “double bind” is also a matter of articulation, yet not of strata, but of the indeterminate ground of determinate meaning. Naturally enough, the concept is present in Glas, as it is in The Truth in Painting, where it functions as a stand-in for différance, and is directly pitched against a dialectics of opposition.15 It thus serves as a quasi-transcendental marker for the deference of determination, as a disallowance of closure. Lyotard, for his part, introduces the double bind in his late philosophy of the differend, in which a conflict of two or more parties cannot be solved because of the lack of a (meta-) criterium or rule that would apply equally to both. Here, the double bind figures again as a notion of absolute difference and conflict that cannot be solved or reconciled by a common genus or higher criterion. And, Lyotard claims, if this conflict is nonetheless solved in the name of a false common, then one side will be violated, silenced, damaged in such a way that the victim is even deprived of the means to name the injustice inflicted on her. It is, again, Hegel who’s found guilty.16

In keeping with this tendency, Schürmann links the double bind to tragedy, to that representation of conflict most cherished by Idealism as the site of progress and reconciliation. One example. Since his youth, tragedy had been Hegel’s hobby horse for thinking through dialectics. It was his favourite model, besides Jesus, because he could never see anything but a theory of progress through sacrifice in it. What Hegel saw in tragedy is exemplary – or, rather, symptomatic – for Schürmann’s critique of the violence philosophy inflicts on the singular and the deep complicity of univocity and oppression. “[I]f the one-sidedness is to be sublated [aufgehoben],” Hegel writes apropos of tragedy, directly transitioning, with a barely concealed rhetorical trick, from dialectical sublation to factual sacrifice, “it is the individual, since he has acted solely as this one ‘pathos,’ who must be sloughed off [abgestreift] and sacrificed [aufgeopfert].” Nothing short of “eternal justice,” he asserts in all earnestness, is what “saves and maintains the harmony of the substance of the ethical order against the particular powers which were becoming independent and therefore colliding, and because of the inner rationality of its sway [Walten] we are satisfied when we see individuals coming to ruin.”17 Who is? Poor him. In no uncertain terms, Schürmann subjects the edifices of this all too German tradition of philosophies of the tragic to the corrosive logic of the double-bind, wrenching singularity from the age-old idolatry of the universal. This time around, it is the univocal law that comes to ruin, not the singular which dared to become independent.

The double bind concerns the phenomenological relation of natality and mortality. It is a disparate, not a binary relation. Employing an old but not ancient vocabulary, that of Kant, Schürmann asserts that this is still a question of conditions, hence a transcendental question, but one in which time itself has broken into the condition, hence not a question of a priori conditions. It is the knowledge of a transcendentally tragic condition, since it is knowledge of a condition that “breaks.”18 Phenomenologically, natality is the impulse of totalization, the Yes of the world, the universal of meaning. If it is unfettered, however, it disallows its other, finitude, and reduces everything to the subsumptive logic of the universal; it institutes laws, invests order with ultimate authority: “It then caps off the singular with ultimate contexts: genres, types, classes, and species; values, meanings, and ideas; the all-inclusive and the inasmuch-as; principles and norms […].”19

Singularization, the maelstrom of finitude, inevitably works upon any order thus instituted from within, corroding it as the subversion that is to come: “Life has to do with the general, with the common, with the species. Death, on the other hand, arrives unexpectedly in the form of a ‘this,’ and every non-subsumed ‘this’ harbors it.”20 Together, the differend of the double-bind announces itself as a “legislative-transgressive fracture,” as the institutions of laws and their subsequent foundering. Historically, law, order and principles have defined the tradition, not singularity and finitude. By and large, philosophy has therefore been written from the police’s point of view: “Idealists of all times have been the model functionaries of order, declaring flatly that the singular has no being.”21 Declaring that the singular has no being amounts to declaring that the law is univocal, to denying the discordant logic of finitude. Schürmann’s investigation of the fractured hegemonies thus turns into a genealogy of the repression and return of singularity, into a necrology of hegemonies. It is a tracing of the “discordance of times which has announced itself under each of the hegemonic fantasms we have lived since the Greeks.”22 For they are founded upon denial and they founder because of it. Each of them.

Ground, principle, arché have been the operative strategies of those successive hegemonic fantasms that tried to suppress the discordant logic of the double bind with the logic of the One. The One has operated through a subsumptive logic of identity and the institution of ultimate, unquestionable norms that constituted, during a linguistic epoch, the phenomenality of phenomena. Norms that provide legitimation for all other practical laws, that give meaning to things and endow action with telos. The One has been called Nature, God, and Subject. It been broken, fractured, and torn to pieces. It is the story of metaphysics. Not an edifying story. A tale of decay and destitution. Yet, in the present, the bedrock is yielding. The ground finally recedes. Finally? For reasons that are complex, Schürmann holds that this historical site, ours, is not yet another an interregnum in an eternal succession of such fantasms, but the site of definitive peremption, of terminal entropy. The principle referent as such – the arché, the ground – withers away, rendering the metaphysical apparatus inoperative.

And Schürmann argues that the history of metaphysics then reveals itself as being not only a story of instituting a normative First on the basis of which the world becomes intelligible: the subsumptive logic of identity. Rather the dislocation of the subject – as presence, ground, One – fractures the syntax of metaphysics, and it is precisely in the ruins of metaphysics that its architecture becomes visible. When ultimate principles are displaced by their dispersion, action is deprived of a foundation. Action becomes anarchic, groundless, without why or goal. Objecthood comes undone, as the fixation of phenomena into objective things – things available, knowable and manipulable – is shattered, announcing the onset of a different mode of phenomenality. And so the foundering of the ultimate figure of the One – the subject to which phenomena have to appear as objects in order to be intelligible – brings the logic that has oriented the entire trajectory to light. Here, in the ruins of the tradition, Duchamp can make his contribution to a phenomenology without subject and beyond representation.

Given: The Ruins

Given the ruins, Duchamp’s spirit of expatriation can appear as it should, for Schürmann, as a phenomenology of meaning not found but disrupted. He saw a loss of sense in the “Bicycle Wheel.” He saw this loss of sense as referring to a trait latent in each phenomena. He saw this liability as having been suppressed for the longest time. “Evidently,” Duchamp himself one remarked apropos of the readymade, “I hope this would not make sense, but, at bottom, everything ends up having one.”23 – Does it?

Schürmann was not alone in considering Duchamp’s work in its relation to the double-bind of sense and non sense. And his brief remarks invite comparative speculations. Some theoretically incisive discussions of Duchamp that should be named here focus on the nature of his act, variously describing it as a symbolic operation. Joseph Kosuth, who, so now everyone agrees, understood so very little about Duchamp, was ironically among the first to propose these terms when he considered the readymade to be an “analytical proposition” about the “nature” of art (that nature being of course conceptual, for Kosuth, by which he meant linguistic). Though opposed to Kosuth in all possible ways, Rosalind Krauss’s “indexical” account and Thierry De Duve’s “enunciative” theory of the readymade are but the most sophisticated versions of such an approach. No matter that they take the readymade’s complex relation to Cubist painting and photography into account, theirs is above all a theory of how the readymade signifies qua symbolic operator. For Schürmann, any such theory would still be far too closely bound to the subject, far too much centred on subjective intentions. And, what is more, for him it would remain too obsessed with the economy of meaning, insofar as the readymade is not construed to signify anything whatever, but to reveal an always possible and imminent loss of meaning. (Paradoxically enough, it was Krauss who developed, in her account of of modernist sculpture, a set of concepts – ranging from an “absolute loss of place” to “sitlesness” –that almost seem to echo Schürmann’s thought. Yet she would not apply them to her reading of Duchamp.) If there is a line of interpretation to which his is close, then this is the Marxist one that considers the nature of the readymade in terms of its object status under capitalism, that is to say: in its relation to the commodity structure and labour.24

But the question of phenomenality, to which Schürmann takes the “Bicycle Wheel” to respond, operates on yet another level, one that is not reducible to the symbolic or economic register, but, Schürmann would claim, functions as their condition of possibility. These are, it has been said, questions about the phenomenality of phenomena (of which the commodity would be but one, if important category). Schürmann saw singularization acknowledged in Duchamp’s work. It is one of the few acknowledgments he names. It is the last contemporary phenomenon in his last book. (He otherwise refers to ancient tragedy and Gogol.) Again, a lifetime of thinking about phenomenology comes close to ending with the phenomenon of Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel,” arguing, in effect, that the eradication of the auratic and individual artwork – the readymade – is the phenomenological acknowledgement of singularity. Save for Duchamp, Schürmann is elusive when it comes to the issue of what will happen with phenomenality in the historical site that is his. He sometimes speaks of a possible new mode of phenomenality, of there being tomorrow a manifold rather than mere objects. But these are delicate matters, and his is not a philosophy in an apocalyptic key. He proceeds cautiously. His words on Duchamp should, therefore, be heard in all their precision: Duchamp exiles the wheel by mounting it on a chair and exhibiting it in a museum.

This cannot but raise certain questions. They have been asked, it is true. But they return here with a vengeance, as Schürmann’s epochal questions intersect with more mundane ones of twentieth century art. For the gesture of exiling Schürmann finds in Duchamp’s work must raise the issue as to whether the “Bicycle Wheel” can indeed avoid falling back into the state from which it has allegedly been exiled, whether the acknowledgement can be maintained. The wheel has been deprived of its function, exiled. It is bereft of use-value, it no longer is a manipulable thing. This much is sure. And yet, does not the site where the phenomenon is encountered as being without function make the regression into an object inevitable? Is the museum in which the wheel eventually was “on view” not an institution whose entire structure is so obviously determined by the fantasm of the modern subject and its corresponding idea of representation and vision?25 What is the phenomenon here, what does it become? An object no longer of use, but, worse yet, an object that is only to be looked it, contemplated, an object of pure representation, an aesthetic and auratic object? Or, in terms that Schürmann himself would have deemed too materialist: does not the negation of instrumentalized use-value effected by “Bicycle Wheel” turn, once it safely installed and explained in the institutional context, into exchange and exhibition value?

This is the story of the aestheticization of anti-aesthetic strategies, of the readymade’s demotion into the canon. It is a tale that has been told.26 Questions are asked and answers given. As a problem that persists, however, it has not been put to the test in a more forceful way than by Sturtevant, an artist whose work is as unlikely as productive an interlocutor for Schürmann as is Duchamp’s, and today perhaps even more so, for reasons just given. Long before “appropriation” was a label, Sturtevant began her praxis of minutely and exactly repeating selected artworks. Of course she would turn to Duchamp. Frequently. She recreated several readymades, among them “Bicycle Wheel,” which she remade under the title “Duchamp Bicycle Wheel” (1969/1973). Hers was not a praxis of copying, nor of appropriating. That she was insistent upon. She wanted the vector of the work to be a different one: “The dynamics of the work is that it throws out representation.”27 How so? It is a question that rebounds. Not only in the face of the readymade’s canonization, but, and even more forcefully so, with regard to what Schürmann hoped to find in it. For the gesture of anonymous repetition promises – ever so fleetingly – to redeem even the last traces of subjectivism from the work. Leaving nothing but the exiling gesture in its place, the undoing of objecthood and identity. What is at stake is then no longer the provocation and conceptual implication of the act, but the vindication of singularization. For once unbound from the logic of identity, repetition would become difference, the repetition not of the same but of singulars. And yet the repetition of the gesture urges one to wonder whether the condition for encountering a phenomenon can remain such that singularization remains acknowledged. Or whether the return to identity and univocal sense are inevitable (in more art-immanent terms: the old question as to whether aestheticization and institutional integration are inevitable).

Schürmann, for his part, ends with tragedy. Against philosophy. This time around, he thought, alterity and singularity might be acknowledged despite the onslaught of identity. Or so he hoped. Maybe Sturtevant would have agreed. She, like Schürmann, had a lot to say about origins and their dispersion: “Double is original. / Copy is original. / Image is origin. / So here we are at the far end of origins, / our radical thought of ‘being’ / that is radical original.”28 Without the One, without identity, neither originals nor copies. No more originals, no more identity. A manifold at the far end of origins. Maybe. Theirs is a ventured position. Not a certain one. This much has remained clear. One held against all odds. Still.


1 Reiner Schürmann, Broken Hegemonies, trans. Reginald Lilly (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indianapolis University Press, 2003), p. 618. The passage on Duchamp occurs, in fact, for the first time already in 1991, in the article “Ultimate Double Binds,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, Vol. 14/15, No. 2/1 (1991), pp. 213–236; p. 231, which outlines the core elements of Schürmann’s late phenomenology. This article will be reprinted in a forthcoming volume: Reiner Schürmann, Tomorrow the Manifold: Essays on Foucault, Anarchy, and the Singularization to Come, eds. Malte Fabian Rauch and Nicolas Schneider (Zurich and Berlin: Diaphanes, forthcoming).

I would like to thank Elena Vogman, Anna Katsman and Nicolas Schneider for comments and conversations on and about this essay.

2 Giorgio Agamben, The Use of Bodies: Homo Sacer 4,2, trans. Adam Kotsko (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016), p. 275.

3 Schürmann, Broken Hegemonies, p. 618.

4 In an interview with George Charbonnier from January 6, 1961, cited in T. J. Demos, The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 2007), pp. 90, 258 n. 40. Like Schürmann, Demos treats ‘exile’ in his study not as biographical category, but as a condition that is crystallized in Duchamp’s works.

5 Schürmann, Broken Hegemonies, p. 253.

6 Marcel Duchamp, “Letter to Suzanne Duchamp, January 15, 1916,” in Affectt Marcel: The Selected Correspondence of Marcel Duchamp, eds. Francis M. Naumann and Hector Obalk, trans. Jil Taylor (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000), pp. 43–44.

7 Despite the lack of documentation and despite all the contradictory things Duchamp said about the issue, it is clear that the ‘second’ version wasn’t included in the first exhibition with readymades at the Bourgeois Gallery in 1916. The version Schürmann had in mind – the one he probably saw in person – was in all likelihood the ‘third’ edition Duchamp did in 1951 for Sidney Janis’s gallery, and which would then quite naturally find its way into the Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection of the MoMA. On the early history of Duchamp’s readymades, one may consult: Elena Filipovic, The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 2016), pp. 75–90; as well as Helen Molesworth, “Work Avoidance: The Everyday Life of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades,” Art Journal, Vol. 57, No. 4 (1998), pp. 50–61; on Duchamp’s re-edition of his readymades and the theme of replicas in his work more generally: Francis M, Naumann, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999).

8 All following quotes by Schürmann in this section are from Broken Hegemonies, pp. 618–619.

9 Notoriously speaking of how an artwork “opens up a world while, at the same time, setting this world back onto the earth which itself first comes forth as homeland [heimatliche Grund].” Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Artwork,” in Off the Beaten Track, ed. and trans. Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 21.

10 On this, see Molly Nesbit and Naomi Sawelson-Gorse, “Concepts of Nothing: New Notes by Marcel Duchamp and Walter Arensberg,” in The Duchamp Effect, eds. Martha Buskirk and Mignon Nixon (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 1996), pp. 131–176. The note to which I refer in the text is a typescript with the title “Avoid,” written by Arensberg, which documents a conversation between him and Duchamp; it is partly reproduced in ibid., p. 145.

11 Gregory Bateson [Don D. Jackson, Jay Haley, and. John H. Weakland], “Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia,” in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (New York: Ballantine, 1972), p. 206. (I left out Bateson’s italics.) On Schürmann’s appropriation of the formal traits, see Broken Hegemonies, p. 633 n. 1.

12 What follows is a condensed summary of some of the main elements of Schürmann’s philosophy. For a more extensive treatment of these issues, as well as a detailed consideration of Schürmann’s relation to recent French philosophy, see Malte Fabian Rauch and Nicolas Schneider, “Of Peremption and Insurrection: Reiner Schürmann’s Encounter with Foucault,” which serves as a critical afterword to the forthcoming volume: Reiner Schürmann, Tomorrow the Manifold: Essays on Foucault, Anarchy, and the Singularization to Come.

13 Michel Foucault, “The Subject and Power,” in Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1982), p. 216.

14 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia II, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), p. 40. On the double bind and the Oedipus, see their Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1983), pp. 78–85; cf. p. 238.

15 “The loosening of the laces is not absolute, it does not absolve, unbind, cut. It keeps an organized stricture. Not a more or less of stricture but a determined (structured) form of stricture: of the outside and the inside, the underneath and the top. The logic of detachment as cut leads to opposition, it is a logic or even a dialectic of opposition. […] The logic of detachment as stricture is entirely other. Deferring: it never sutures. Here it permits us to take account of this fact: that these shoes are neither attached nor detached, neither full nor empty. A double bind is here as though suspended and imposed simultaneously, […].” Jacques Derrida, “Restitutions,” in The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 340. The laces Derrida is referring to are, notoriously, the ones depicted in Van Gogh’s “A Pair of Shoes” (1886).

16 On the use of the double bind, see Jean-François Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, trans. Georges Van den Abbeele (Minnesota: Minnesota University Press, 1988), pp. 5–6; on Hegel, pp. 93–94.

17 G. W. F. Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik III, in Werke, vol. 15, eds. Eva Moldenhauer and Klaus Markus Michels (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1986), pp. 548, 565. On this, as well as a related critique of Idealism that reads tragedy as a vindication of singularity, see Malte Fabian Rauch, “Silence / Signification Degree Zero: Walter Benjamin’s Anti-Aesthetic of the Body,” arcadia, Vol. 54, No. 2 (forthcoming)

18 Schürmann, Broken Hegemonies, p. 36.

19 Ibid., p. 19.

20 Ibid., p. 17.

21 Ibid., p. 620

22 Ibid., p. 36.

23 Marcel Duchamp, Entretiens avec Pierre Cabane (Paris: Éditions Allia, 2014), p. 60. Duchamp is referring, specifically, to the title he gave to the first ‘American’ ready made, a snow shovel (“In Advance of the Broken Arm”).

24 See Joseph Kosuth, “Art after Philosophy,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, eds. Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 1999), pp. 158–177; pp. 165–166. Rosalind Krauss, “Notes on the Index: Part I,” in The Originality of The Avanti-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 1985), pp. 196–211; p. 206. (Krauss’s description of modernist sculpture may be found in “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” in ibid., pp. 277–290; p. 280. Note that these terms are absent from her discussion of Duchamp in Passages in Modern Sculpture [New York: Viking Press, 1977], chap. 3) Thierry De Duve, Kant after Duchamp (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 1996), pp. 389–392. For an interesting recent reformulation of the Marxist line, see John Roberts, The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art After the Readymade (London and New York: Verso, 2007), chap. 2 and 3.

25 For an account of which, see Tony Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics (London and New York: Routledge, 1995).

26 It has been told well by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, for example in his, “Readymade, Objet Trouvé, Idée Reçue,” and, with a scathing focus on how Duchamp himself reflected these issues in Boîte-en-valise, in his “The Museum Fictions of Marcel Broodthaers,” both in Formalism and Historicity: Methods and Models for Twentieth Century Art (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT-Press, 2015), pp. 311–333 and pp. 227–249, respectively.

27 Sturtevant, “The Brutal Truth,” lecture held at the Frankfurt Museum für Moderne Kunst, 2004. The quoted passage from the lecture’s typescript is cited in Udo Kittelmann and Mario Kramer’s preface to the catalogue Sturtevant, The Brutal Truth, exh. cat. MMK-Museum, Frankfurt (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hantje Catz, 2004), p. 19.

28 Ibid.

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Malte Fabian Rauch

is a Berlin based writer and editor. His work focuses on recent continental philosophy, contemporary art and aesthetics, as well as media and design theory. After studying in Hamburg, London and at the New School in New York, he currently works in the interdisciplinary research project “Cultures of Critique” at Leuphana University Lüneburg.
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