Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Visual Arts


David Merritt

Second Advisor

Collette Urban


This text is an attempt to nuance the theoretical implications of Marcel Duchamp’s readymade by focusing on the temporal and performative qualities of the work. The readymade is also used to bring together a number of disparate concepts: it is discussed as an instance of Verwindung, as the concept is articulated by Gianni Vattimo, it is considered in light of Duchamp’s own notes and texts on inframince (infrathin), and finally, the readymade is characterized in terms of movement or displacement, using Michel de Certeau’s differentiation of “space” and “place” and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s description of the tandem practices of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. As a paradigm, the readymade illustratively brings together these convergent concepts, each describing an event, a coming-together, a movement, or a shift in the locus of meaning. These concepts are also applied to contemporary cultural production and practices that make use of the slippery and contingent space between art and life, spaces that the readymade has essentially opened up.



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