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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathBroodthaers

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series of differences, of contiguities and displacements; that is, a series without closure. In short, the utopian imagination is refigured as an endless play of signs, a text that is eternally written here and now. But as always the utopian imagination remains nourished by its own historical context. Famously Foucault’s essay ended on the wistful note: «A day will come when, by means of similitude relayed indefinitely along the length of a series, the image itself, along with the name it bears, will lose its identity. Campbell, Campbell, Campbell, Campbell.» [17]

Can this simulacral series provide an alternative to the dissemblance of modern art? Can the simulacrum form an antidote to that phantasm, which as Broodthaers has observed, «flickers along the peripeties of our history like a shadow play?» [18] Is the fiction of art’s autonomy simply to be dissolved in the here and now of similitude? Surely such a conclusion does not rhyme with the enunciative condition of Broodthaers’ cinema, which, as I have stated before, is doubly inscribed within both the present and the past. At first sight, the «Section Cinéma» appears to support exactly such a reading. It appears to insist on the simulacral character of the display objects. As the artist stated in an interview, the submission of these objects to an identical numbering system undoes their proper identity. They become, that is


«interchangeable elements on the stage of a theatre.» And, as a result, «their detiny is ruined.» [19]

However the ensemble of objects bears a double assignment. First of all, there exist two sets of objects. One is scattered across the architectural space, including a chair and a ceiling light. The other is contained within a coffer like the assortment of toys in a child’s play chest. Furthermore, the numerical series has received a double articulation. Broodthaers offers not only the alternative of fig. 1 versus fig. 2, but also the possibility of their symbolical combination, as in the fig. 1 & 2 of the film winder or the fig. 12 of the clock. In other words, the purely equivalent status of these numbered ready-mades does not rule out their assimilation within a specific ideological or narrative order of language. According to the artist the objects are susceptible to assuming a «moral«role within the spatial continuum of any diegetic universe whether projected by the social apparatus of the museum or the cinema. «If we are to believe what the inscription says«, Broodthaers considers, «then the object takes on an illustrative character referring to a kind of novel about society». [20] However, this moral figure does not spell the end of our series.

Despite the vacillation of these objects between the space of similitude and that of representation, between a differential and a moral value, Broodthaers

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