The Surprise of a Kinder Egg

Today every element of our lives has become a commodity, through publicising it at our own free will. Even our appearance holds a form of currency, as we whore out images of our selves for ‘likes’. Everything must be modified, multiplied and promoted: to be seen as relevant within the viewer’s congested imagination.

In Sophie Fiennes film, A Perverts Guide to Ideology, Slavoj Zizek discusses the elementary dialectics of commodities.

“ A quite astonishing commodity; the surprise of a kinder surprise egg, Is that this excessive object, the cause of your desire is here materialized, in the guise of an object a plastic toy, which fills the inner void of the chocolate egg, the whole delicate balance is between these two dimensions.”

“I don’t think the chocolate frame is here just to send you on a deeper voyage towards the inner treasure, what Plato calls the agalma, which makes you a worthy person, which makes the commodity desirable, I think it is the other way around we should aim at the higher goal. The goal in the middle of an object precisely in order to be able to enjoy the surface”

This metaphor exemplifies the hierarchy we have created in the way that we perceive our lives and the images that fill them, and so, in turn, the way we that we perceive art too. The problem lies in the fact that we are continuously re-creating a social construct which devalues the art that we see within it. Effectively desensitising us to just about everything. Whether it is a conversation, an exhibition or even a dead body. It’s hard to maintain a natural response to anything anymore.

Usually art objects eventually become re-generated as commodities because of various elements over time such as; an artist’s style coming into fashion, their illustriousness in the public eye and art market, and the value that their name holds among collectors. This is not necessarily the problem because art requires commodification to uphold its economy.

The problem has emerged with familiarity of the commodification procedure that has become a necessary part the everyday. An indispensible part of an emerging artists working process, this new mode of working sees immediate reproduction and regurgitation almost equal too materialization. Emerging artists are left forcibly self-promoting, their work and their lives in tandem, creating what becomes almost a virtual parody of both. Subsequently leaving the viewer with a distorted interpretation of their original intention. This relates to what Slavoj Zizek calls cynical ideology; “being fully aware of a functioning paradoxical situation, but non-the less taking part in it.”

It is appealing and gratifying to our egotistical needs for acknowledgment so we adhere to investing time in becoming these virtual versions of our selves. For this however we sacrifice our sensitivity, we allow ourselves to be numbed by the consistent motion created by this perpetual stream of information. As long as we are producing we feel we are productive, the struggle is to remain aware of the genuine validity of what it is that we are producing and in turn of what we are consuming.

Art objects are representational forms that exist to materialise and concretise an abstract notion formulated by the artist’s imagination. So we must appreciate the reason for their creation too allow the aesthetic pleasure we receive from the surface of their physical being. If these objects are continuously browsed casually with a frivolous eye the very point of there existence becomes devalued. Viewing the world through these trivial eyes can only lead to diminishing the value of our own unconscious as well as everything that is produced from it in the future.


Melanie Wheeler

I graduated last year from Manchester school of Art, specializing in sculpture and installation.
I am also interested in collaborative projects with a focus on creating immersive environments.
I use writing as a medium for social commentary and critical thinking.

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