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It's Not Junk Food, Mom: I'm Carrying on the Duchampian Tradition of the Readymade


Photo by Calgary Reviews / CC BY 2.0

For the last time, Mommy: stop calling my Cheetos “junk food”. They are far, far more important than you will ever know.

By the very act of placing this bag of salty delights on the table in my dimly lit dorm, I am plucking it out of the sphere of commercialism and plunging it into the frigid, foul-smelling abyss that is conceptual art! Oh, what novelty, what unbridled creative genius! Do you see what I’ve done here, mother? You… don’t? Dear God. Pearls before swine.

It’s about an idea, okay? And no, not the idea that I’m too lazy to wake up before 10 a.m., do my own shopping, and cook a healthy meal that doesn’t contain over 200 percent of my daily value of sodium. It’s about the idea of the readymade, which is essentially when you call a urinal a “fountain” and then attempt to pawn it off on any museum that is willing to take it. Hey — let’s not get tied up with semantics, here. The point is: this bag of fried, cheese-flavored corn slurry is the pinnacle of the Duchampian tradition.

The only way to truly enjoy this piece is through ingestion. The Cheeto, in all of its scrumptious and convenient splendor, is a representation of modern life, and through the act of inserting a Cheeto into my gaping mouth, I am obviously providing commentary into how stiflingly banal and dangerously shallow our modern society has become. Do you read me, lady? By leveraging the act of feeding, I, as the artist, am conspicuously appropriating the common notion of mass production as it applies to nutrition, blithely and boldly tapping into the collective unconscious of a nation, and redefining and abstracting the aforementioned universally-understood action in terms of the language of symbols, signals, and iconography, which in turn forces the beleaguered viewer to question their own mental, physical, and socioeconomic relationships with such everyday objects in a frenzied, stochastic panic, with the overarching query as it stands posing profound ontological inquiries into the metaphysical associations of simulations and simulacra as they exist in perceptions surrounding the idea of a post-capitalist framework. So stop breathing down my neck, Mom!