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The unexpected object

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Antonio Ramírez

The so-called ”unexpected objects” must be realized as follows: first one has to select and purchase a commodity in a supermarket (the mode of acquisition will be determined during the process; without a doubt, the ideal way is to get through shop lifting). The contents of the package, i.e., the commodity itself is replaced by an object of poetic nature made on purpose. The making of the object can be performed before or after obtaining the product in such a way that it keeps a relationship with the substituted content or not; the only condition is that the latter's dimensions suit the package. Once you achieve to restore the packaging to the original appearance it had before its original content had been stripped, i.e. without signs of having been opened, it is returned on the sly to the supermarket shelf from which it was collected, waiting to be purchased by an unwary consumer.

    
Bruno Jacobs

For whoever realizes and places the unexpected object in the supermarket, it is an act of subversion in the strictest sense, because with this act the mechanism of consumption is being thoroughly altered. First one has to ”chase” the product that will serve as a receptacle, which in itself implies a playful experience of the supermarket. Then, when returning it, one has to swim against the stream and inadvertently place the package back on the shelf in the supermarket as just another commodity, thus reversing a process that seemed immovable. The usurper thus gets rid of the object and offers it as a gift where only money rules, and with that act opens a gap for a second for imperturbable Moloch to sink. From that moment, it doesn't matter much who will be the acquirer of our object, we can only speculate about the way that person will react. It is an act of irreverent nature, even illegal, that comprises a component of violence and of contempt for the established, and that basically comes from the hope of provoking an act of complicity from the part of another person.

  
Eugenio Castro

In practice, through this action a commodity is being removed from the pervasive market logic in order to be transformed into an absolutely useless object in that context, ie, a lack of exchange value and a more than doubtful use value. It deals therefore with bringing about a profanation of the the modern fetish par excellence, i.e. the goods, and this in its own sanctuary, where is surrounded by countless and indifferent similar ones, protected and immersed in the timeless ritual of consumption, breaking the ridiculous position of omnipotence that is given to the consumer. When the doors of the supermarket open, the buyer tacitly expects the goods to display themselves submissive according to his purchase expectations. Thus, after the sacred exercise of supposed freedom that the choice and payment of the goods is, the consumer is entitled to require that such fetishes fulfill what has been being promised by way of the monetary contract (sacrifice). Therefore, for many of these unwary consumers, finding an unexpected object, which moreover escapes any rational sense, will become a deeply fraudulent situation, an annoying scam that, at the height of absurdity, will not even be able to be complained about because of the absurdity of the situation. Who would dare to go to the supermarket to complain about the strange and disturbing contents of a can of mackerel? How to describe the situation that ended with that found in his hands?

    
Lurdes Martínez

With this approach, a fragment of colonized reality is being liberated to give it the uniqueness and the unpragmatic value of the poetic. In addition, the final consummation of this subversion is being realized when the consumer, who has complied with his glorious role, opens the package and finds something that sharply breaks with his expectations. By way of a Trojan Horse, the unexpected object has entered into the realm of his privacy, in the closed structure of the home and in everyday life, to prevent the expected worship of the seemingly omnipotent commodity fetish. Thus a breakdown takes place in the supposedly natural and straightforward relationship (doctrinally presented as non-ideological) between value and product. For the customer pays for an object devoid of monetary value, which actually exceeds the order of the goods and drives him to an opening to the symbolic and the poetic that is multiple; because he encounters on the one hand the object itself, and on the other hand, the unrepeatable moment of discovery, that movement of extraction that he performs with his own hands and that leads to the stupor and vertigo of feeling that suddenly nothing fits. He will find himself with a misbegotten present in his hands, something unmanageable, unconsumable, gratuitous and that deliberately impels him to confront the sensible without possible mediation. In short, it deals with an involuntary experience, though perhaps secretly desired (how much he perhaps may deny it).

      
Noé Ortega Quijano

The consequences of this action, however, go beyond a momentary disconnection of the subject as a gear in that commercial totalitarianism into which our existence has turned. An abyssal opening is being created to the absurd an the poetic confronting him to an enigma that has been cast in the most everyday sphere, in his own home, safe from the looks of others, in that space where he still has a chance to be alone and think. Thus, the expectations of a universe that is presented as perfectly mechanistic, based on the causality of money, can crack at the instant that the hidden object is revealed. Likewise, no kind of political discourse or utopian message that tries to support or give a meaning to the unexpected object is being articulated, but the opening of sense is absolute, remaining the determination of a given symbolic value at the mercy of the receiver; and, above all, it offers something tangible, perceptible, material, something seemingly insignificant, but of radically subversive nature. The consumer gets something tangible and inescapable; it is neither a message nor an illusion, there no place to turn a deaf ear or turn amazed. He expected to find the tamed and prosaic reality of always but met with a burst of poetic objectivity. Then, at the moment when the victim of our action has the opportunity to reflect on what has happened, maybe the idea of the other will emerge, an enigmatic subjectivity that upsets his most basic mindsets. In this sense, that other one who is offering the unexpected gift is not simply a politically seditious person who tries to give him bad conscience, but someone who has outraged him through the doubtless most despised and bloated resorts of his life. That disbelief when opening the package that refers to the realm of the dream, of the absurd, of the poetic, is strengthened when speculating on that other one whose derangement is evident. Otherwise, how to explain that someone could come to do such a thing. But with this such a risky and tangible action, the other has established his undeniable existence, someone who without has gotten into your home without permission by introducing an object that is loaded with an indefinite intention, since it opens an infinite possibility of experiences and interpretations being separated from an intelligible context, exposing an original and pre-conceptual experience to him. Because no tutorial, no artistic intention, no justification to structure the experience or provides him any closed sense is attached to the object. Encountering the object, there will only be two options: throw it away or let oneself be carried away by the unknown. And from there, the possibilities are countless.

    
Vicente Gutiérrez Escudero

(Published in Salamandra #21-22, 2014-2015)

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