The incredulity of Saint Thomas
The ready-made objects used to create this work were at first discovered in my neighbourhood, only to later repeatedly occur on several occasions in various configurations. Their arrangement, placement, size, condition and all the visual aspects differed but one: they were always glass sheets, sometimes broken sometimes intact. And from the very first instance, these pictorial objects made me think of one thing: Marcel Duchamp and his “Large Glass”.
In his Fragment on machines Marx imagines that in an economy where machines do most of the work, the nature of the knowledge locked inside the machines must, he writes, be “social”. Marx imagined the end point of this trajectory: the creation of an “ideal machine”, which lasts forever and costs nothing.
Once you understand that information is physical, and that software is a machine, the value of Marx’s thinking becomes clear. We are surrounded by machines that cost nothing and could if we wanted them to, last forever. In the sense of contemporary capitalist societies, information is a commodity which does not belong to an individual or organisation body but what Marx calls a “general intellect” – which is the mind of everybody connected by social knowledge, in which every upgrade benefits everybody.
The glass sheets scattered throughout the city functioned as representatives of information which does not belong to anybody and thus belongs to all (art history). And should these particular glass sheets disappear we, can always find new ones to replace their role.
A gesture of declaring such abandoned glass sheet a work of art is nothing else than transforming history into a ready-made.
At some point, however, this prosaic object with its cracks seemed somehow unreal and left me with an irresistible need to touch it. It resulted in me cutting my finger. The view of blood brought an image the incredulous Thomas touching the wound of Christ. The newly arriving reference soon became clear. After creation of the readymade, the status of the work of art became difficult to establish. The matter is simple though, what is pivotal is belief: the only thing necessary after all for a work of art to acquire such status is simply for the artist and the spectator to believe it is a work of art.