BOOKS_Book review: "The Object of the Century" by Gérard Wacjman Amorrortu editors

"The Object of the Century" - a psychoanalytic piece of great value - offers its readers an exciting adventure. Written in a fresh, lively style, with a passion that is impossible to hide, the author begins by challenging the readers to not only think about art, but how it interacts, dialogues and it interprets our century. Its plot unfolds from short but not simple questions that allow for a constant back and forth: from the concept of art to its ruptures, from the idea of object to the supposed subject of knowledge, from seeing to looking, from veil to reality, from showing to a certain truth of the world, and so on.

The author chooses two pieces from the beginning of the 20th century, Bicycle Wheel on a Stool and Black Square on White Background, by Duchamp and Malevich, not so much to interpret, explain or describe them, but to use them as levers from which to account the turning point that the entry into modernity represented. An unprecedented change that transformed the way we look, see, exhibit, and think about art, and that inseparably left its marks on the subjectivity of the century. It seems chalenging to get something more or unique out of it.

Based on small and almost imperceptible starting points, such as the guiding principle, "an object is needed to think," Gérard Wacjman accompanies us in our exercise of thought. He uses two objects of art to think about the object itself, the object a. He highlights the creation process of Duchamp's Wheel and the ready-made: taking an object out of the production chain of the market, an industrial object, stripping it of its usefulness, and carrying out, through an artistic act, a profound transformation of it. The uselessness of the market object, which is very useful for art.

The art of this century that would point to “real”: infusing emptiness into the object, emptying it - not making a vacuum in it - proposing nothing to see, showing something of the truth of the world, getting rid of representation but not of the object, taking the pieces of work as adventures of thought, thinking the value of the signature as an act, proposing the piece, the artist, and the spectator as emerged from an encounter.,  these are some of the paths that accompany us in reading this book.

The journey ends where it begins, without implying any truth. If the winning object of the contest "the object of the century" is "the destruction without ruin" in times that challenge memory even through policies of historical recovery, the ethics of the visible provides us, in the end, with the irreducible position of desire. Because the artistic act, creation, works-of-art are inseparable from the act of thinking the world, of showing its truth - sometimes hiding it - of our times. (...)