With Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, he tests the concept of art that was widely accepted at the time. Duchamp created his readymades out of found objects with no intention of visual pleasure or uniqueness. Instead, he included a title, to push the viewer to a more verbal area, in order to make art primarily conceptually appealing rather than visually. Duchamp suggests that a work of art’s value has nothing to do with the artist’s intended meaning. The artist’s intention and the work’s realization are not the same. The spectator now has the power to determine the works esthetic quality. Ultimately the point Duchamp tries to get across is that it is not the artist alone who makes the art, but also the spectator.
As assigned, I have created my own assisted readymade that reflects Duchamp’s own ideas. According to the assignment parameters, the assisted readymade must be created from a found object or objects with minor alterations and must be easily reproducible. Because this “work of art” must primarily deal with the idea rather than the object itself, its meaning must seem unclear upon first sight, but upon further review, a meaning must be decipherable.
Shown above is my assisted readymade titled “Death for Comfort”. It is made of a beer bottle cap and a pack of cigarettes glued to a CVS/pharmacy prescription bag. This can be easily replicated because all the found items are insignificant trash. Why is this art? And why the title “Death for Comfort?
Let us first think about each items primary use. The beer bottle cap represents alcohol. Alcohol is often used to alter the state of mind and to move the user into a state of “comfort” and relaxation. Cigarettes also are used to calm or “comfort” the user. A lot of smokers will suggest that they need a cigarette after a stressful situation. Finally, the prescription bag represents pharmaceutical drugs. In the United States, in today’s society, if anything is going awry with our body or mind we quickly turn to pharmaceutical drugs for the immediate relief or “comfort.”
Next we must look at the term “death” and how it relates. Although it should be extremely obvious to any onlooker, I will explicate this point nonetheless. Alcohol is widely known to cause liver issues; cigarettes, lung issues; and pharmaceutical drugs, a wide variety of bodily issues. All of these items push the consumer closer and closer to death.
The human race is constantly in a rush, always trying to move forward, and ignoring many stumbling blocks that happen to fall in the way. In times of discomfort, we look for the easy way out. “Death for Comfort,” deals with our society’s apathy towards the future that isn’t in our immediate sight, all for the sake of instant relief. We ignore the fact that many items we use for instant comfort each day are constantly moving us closer to death.
This, like Duchamp’s own assisted readymades, is started by the artist and finished by the viewer. Although I have this view on the meaning of “Death for comfort,” It is not necessarily the only correct view. You, the audience, are given the power to decide what “Death for Comfort” is.