Readings for Art Users #6

April 6, 2016
Readings for Art Users #6

Readings for Art Users #5: Diogenes, Duchamp and Rejection (of Art, Work and Others)
Presenters: Michał Kozłowski, Kuba Szreder
April 6, 2016, 6 p.m.
Emilia Pavilion Auditorium
Museum of Modern Art, Emilii Pater 51


Marcel Duchamp is commonly seen as the founding father of modern art. What is interesting, though, is that Duchamp’s attitude towards art was at the very least ambivalent. Art to him had so little importance that instead of positioning himself in direct opposition to it, he would rather play chess or leave found objects at the gallery. This was because Duchamp regarded art as a form of work, which is problematic unless it is completely pointless, and therefore should be simply avoided. In other words, Duchamp can be understood as a radical advocate of laziness who not only says that making art is not worth it, but also that it is not worth anything to devote oneself to anti-art, because it requires too much effort. He believed that at most one could spend several hours a day on molecular aesthetic and existential shifts. It should be underlined that by withdrawing from art, Duchamp also withdrew from other socially defined categories – ones relating to gender, class and profession. Duchamp as such can be interpreted as a rejection classic (rejecting work, but not only), just like the contemporary social philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato sees it. He compares Duchamp’s ascetism to antiquity’s cynics’ existential techniques.  During the seminar, in order to discuss the validity of this unconventional interpretation, we will juxtapose excerpts from Maurizio Lazzarato’s last book Marcel Duchamp and the Refusal of Work (2014) with fragments of Diogenes Laertius’s Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (3rd century CE) and examples of artistic escapology.

The texts will be sent to those interested in participating in the seminar a week before the event. Please e-mail with the title “Art User Readers” to receive the texts. The reading material will also be available at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw reception at Emilii Plater 51. The meeting will take place in the auditorium on the first floor of the Emilia pavilion.


About the events

The Free/Slow University of Warsaw team invites you to a new series of seminars organized in conjunction with the “Making Use. Life in Postartistic Times” exhibition. The Free/Slow University, referring to the flying university tradition, offers art users a series of self-study meetings. The readers will help build a concept toolbox that enables independent tinkering with the key ideas necessary to understand the role and situation of art in today’s world. Art User Readers refer directly to exhibitions organized at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (“Making Use”, “Why We Have Wars” and “Bread and Roses”), rooting a theoretical reflection in a conversation on current art and curation practices. A series of seven seminars will consider various questions, including: What is the applied value of art? Is art useless? What does ‘making use’ mean in this context? Do we live in a post-artistic age? Is the avant-garde dream of a fusion of art and life still an unfulfilled one? Can art still lead to radical transformations of everyday life? What is artistic competence? How does it radiate to other spheres of life? What are the possible art worlds? What is the worth of institutions that keep up artistic autonomy? What is the ethnographic turn in art? Can the art world effectively include the excluded? What is the connection between DIYers and hackers? What kind of work is done by social network users?


Readings for Art Users has been conceptualized and organized by:

Sebastian Cichocki, Joanna Figiel, Michał Kozłowski, Zofia Płoska, Tomasz Rakowski, Kuba Szreder