Profiles

Justin Lieberman was born in Gainesville (FL) in 1977. He studied on Yale University (New Haven, CT 2004) and School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA 2000). He lives and works in Chatham (New York).

“Art that serves a purpose, i.e.; is not useless, renounces its status as art and becomes merely applied art. Although it does not necessarily follow that all useless things are art, I believe that the intention to create a real thing and its subsequent failure could also constitute a work of art. I refer to a real thing in the sense that art and real things are often identical in appearance. Martin Heidegger referred to these failed pieces of equipment as present-at-hand, meaning that they made themselves ostentatious through the frustration experienced at their attempted use. Heidegger found this ostentatious-ness to be bland and boring, but is art so different? The failed real thing resembles a kitsch object, carrying with it the history of it’s own debasement. And yet it performs this compressed physical history of debasement with an immanence that the cultural and economic debasements of kitsch do not possess. It is not a Duchampian readymade, which is to say that it is not a functioning real thing made useless by its declared status as art. (The immanence of the failed real thing is tethered to language, but not contingent upon it.) Perhaps it is made useless by poor design or craftsmanship, or possibly it became useless with age. Whereas the readymade could conceivably be put back into use with little effort (thus its contingency with relation to intention), the failed real thing is dead to the old world of useful things and may only go on living in a zombie-like state as a work of art. This is not camp; it is not a failed work of art. It possesses no such glamour. The failed real thing is unparalleled in its banality, which transcends mere intentionality. Broken machines and crumbling architecture are like blind spots in our vision. Memory glosses over them as if they weren’t there. Because of their invisibility, they are the haunt of crime and this makes their banality ominous. The laughter that accompanies the failed real thing is a cold and heartless one.”

Justin Lieberman

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