Creatio ex Cultus—Sokal Art and Religion

How a ridiculous hoax can change history.

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction—Pablo Picasso

During 1917 Marcel Duchamp entered an upside-down toilet signed, R. Mutt, into an art exhibit. The Society of Independent Artists’ salon in New York—which claimed that they would accept any work of art, so long as the artist paid the application fee. The toilet was initially rejected as a hoax, but then admired, lauded as “groundbreaking”, when the true identity of the artist was discovered. Duchamp’s Sokal style hoax had worked. “Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.” Others who had followed Duchamp’s work closely, recognized the groundbreaking power of the work.

Other comments and editorials—

It also doesn’t mean that we can’t revel in the Unsolved Mystery-like scenario of Fountain’s mysterious disappearance: To this day, no one knows what became of the “original.” We only have 17 copies that Duchamp created in the 1960s“.

The nebulous origins of the fountain only add to its many layers and complexities”.

If the genesis and meaning of fountain remain elusive, it has provided countless artists with something of a starting pistol for the idea of art-as-concept in the 20th century, underscoring the fact that the definition of art itself is up for grabs“.

Enter ontology religion—

Though Cubists began breaking toilets, reassembling, bronzing, and selling them in the style of Picasso, the fact is, because of the Artists name, a new religion of crap/art gained a foothold in monetary value and influence. My guess is the original was put back into use and is once again a toilet. Here’s hoping religion too, finds a useful purpose—a history lesson

Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima—Pablo Picasso

And the genius of Sir John Harington, and Thomas Crapper leads to art—in the style of religion.