The framing of objects in Penny Siopis' ‘Sympathetic Magic’

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The use of found objects is part of contemporary art-making practices, and can no longer be understood in terms of the anti- art gestures of the first decades of the 20th century. An approach to understanding this practice, which goes beyond an interpretation of the artworks as ‘anti-art’, is needed. One such approach is to focus on the changed ontology of the objects when they are embedded in the field of art. With critical reference to the use of found objects in Siopis' (2002) exhibition, ‘Sympathetic Magic’, this article explores the possibilities of meaning that arise from a shift in focus of found objects as ‘anti-art’, to a focus on the changed ontological status of the objects when included in the field of art. Recent anthropological discourse on the materiality of things provides a vantage point for unpacking the ontological status of the objects qua object. Danto's treatise on the transfiguration of the commonplace and Baxandall's discussion on ‘exhibiting intention’ are used to interrogate the objects' changed significance as art. I argue that the different treatment of objects in this series of installations demonstrates how the meaning objects have for us, changes when we encounter those objects differently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-62
Number of pages17
JournalDe Arte
Issue number88
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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