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“The first [moment] consists of placing the chosen object in the center of the world, that is, in the center of my ‘concerns’; opening a particular trap door in my mind, and thinking about it naïvely and fervently (lovingly). Explain that it is not so much the object (it doesn’t necessarily have to be present) as the idea of the object, including the word that designates it. The object as notion . . . Everything that has ever been thought enters into it. Everything that will be thought, the measure of the object, its qualities, compared. Above all the most tenuous, the least often stated, the most shameful (though they appear to be arbitrary, puerile—or evoke a generally inadmissible order of relationships). In other cases, only one aspect of the object, my preferred reaction, my favorite association (peeling a boiled potato, and the way it cooks), will be emphasized, given prime importance. One digs and one discovers. Here the trap door of sleep and dreams is as important as the one of lucidity and wakefulness.”

In these terms the French poet Francis Ponge described his unique poetics in Taking the Side of Things; revealing a procedure by which “Mute Objects of Expression” functioned as trap doors opening onto a latticework of conscious and unconscious associations.

In the past 100 years, artists have challenged us to look at familiar things with alien eyes – simply by displacing or reframing them. Ready-mades and found objects have irreversibly changed the paradigms of art-making in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Revealing the hidden factors determining what we see as ‚Art' (institutional frameworks, white cubes, plinths), artists such as Marcel Duchamp and André Breton also laid bare the general logic of meaning-assignment. Accordingly, Pillow Theory is an exercise in subverting a familiar object.

Pillow Theory consists of two mutually destabilizing elements,

1) An appropriated familiar object: a (stolen? lost and found?) ICE pillow,

2) A textual ready-made.

The latter disturbs the muteness of the former by making it the center of disorienting textual configurations: Excerpts from novels and online forums, poems, and compilations of found phrases from which a new, hybrid, voice emerges.

On the occasion of the Karlsruhe University of Art & Design Rundgang 2021, we proudly present exclusive copies of The Pillow Book. Beyond the exhibition, you might find flyers with QR codes of The-Pillow-Book-pdf, subtly tucked into ICE pillows, on one of your next journeys.

The Pillow Book features contributions by Jeongmin Han, Valentin Hesch, George MacBeth, Lea Nohr, Birte Roehrig, Laura Vogelhoefer, Janis Zeckai, & other Kapok*. The Pillow Book was designed by Jeongmin Han & Huiyeon Yun, and edited by Jeongmin Han & George MacBeth. Pillow Theory was conceived and curated by Valentin Hesch and George MacBeth and emerged from Katharina Weinstock’s seminar “Post-Readymades. Found objects in art, 1960 until today,” Winter Term 2021/2022, department of Art Research & Media Philosophy.