A2 – The Object Box

  • A2 – The Object Box
  • A2 – The Object Box
  • A2 – The Object Box
  • A2 – The Object Box
  • A2 – The Object Box
  • A2 – The Object Box
  • A2 – The Object Box

The Object Box: A Useless Thing – exploring options

One of my two ideas I want to proceed with for my assignment is the Object Box. A box of items that the beholder can engage with, driven by curiosity to open and to unfold, and desire to make sense out of it. Inspired by my travel life and initial object-box performance of opening the box and a step by step removal of objects, a spatial and temporal displacement.

I would consider this as a sculptural painting and a display of objects questioning the notion of a painting as an object. This might be seen in the context of Marcel Duchamp’s (1935-41) Boîte en valiseDuchamp’s work is a collection of items made by him  in the past, alongside one original piece (he made a limited edition of 20) and addressing ‘museums’ ever-increasing traffic in reproductions and question the relative importance of the “original” work of art. (The Museum of Modern Art (1999). For me, it is not about institutional operations, but more about the experience and question how we build relationships to objects around us.

Another source of inspiration for me is the work of  Bianca Baldi (2014) Zero Latitude.. Her work can be seen in context of colonialism through leveraging the aesthetic appeal of the Louis Vuitton’s Explorer Bed produced in the 19th century. The physical action of unfolding as a conceptual deferral to the colonial endeavors by De Brazza’s journey along the Congo River. The Vuitton Explorer Bed imagined and commissioned for him. The void of the background to decontextualise and to bring forward the aesthetic appeal of the performance as an interesting feature for displacement and triggering imaginations. The unfolding of the bed not as a representation but as an object to be experienced as such.

Objects can became cult, precious collectibles, or just trash for the bin. What makes us to decide what to do what? Is it context? Is it cultural convention? What about emotions and human conditions of curiosity and desire? An aspect that I can related to Mark Dion‘s exploration exhibited at WhiteChapel Gallery (‘Theatre of the Natural World‘). 

And last not least, objects, dysfunctional things can become fetishes. My relationship with found objects became since my initial making of my object-box as a replacement for my suitcase as constant interrogation and intimate exploration. Neglected objects became meaning through painting them out, through performative arrangements and through placing them in exposed places.

Here my various approaches seeking for sense.

Idea #1: Collectibles

The following installation of made objects  can possibly show a more precious appeal of ‘nonsense’ items. Possibly with the right text underneath a nice statement in a ethnographic or anthropological museum. 

Stefan513593 - Ex 2.5 - Making - box size 2

Fig. 1: A4 – prep – Made box objects in display

Derived ideas and questions:

  • A make of useless and dysfunctional items, a sense of displacement to keep
  • A display: To show it like this or to engage the spectator into making, arranging it? An object or a process?

Objects – packaging items – made from packaging materials – skin of commodities  – after commodities taken out and away a void is left – the void articulated through the objects of no-desire.

For Karl Marx commodities are fetishes, objects valued not by its use-value, but by exchange value and disconnected from labor involved to make them. Very much what happens with art works. 

“Every product is converted into a social hieroglyphic” – Karl Marx, 1867


Therefore also dysfunctional objects can be of value, and no object is not ‘useless’ enough to be not considered for further exploration. Hence, my object-box makes sense in a cultural and social setting. The question of still-life versus arranging as a process are two ways that I need to find out.

Idea #2: The Surprise Box

Or just go ahead with my initial feeling of making a box for others to see, to play with? Simplicity, and a showcase of my own learning shared with others? Some initial ideas of appropriating the OCA box (Fig. 2)

Surprisingly, I could see some resonating elements with my previous works (color, text, context):

  • the red ‘activator’ 
  • the labels, barcodes – perhaps to add QR codes with my videos?
  • the ‘urgent’ indication, always something I found amusing, giving art a high priority
  • the red tissue resonating with my red dog poop box
  • it is a box shipped to my place, part of me and what I did – appropriating the box seems to be a fascinating aspect re giving back to community aka OCA (for ‘Showcase’)


Stefan513593 -A2 - prep object box - OCA

Fig. 2: A2 – prep object box – OCA   – an appropriation to give back, to share, as a non-didactic, entertaining approach to exploration and sensations


Derived ideas and questions:

  • The dog poop bag as medium for writing some instructions. To write on a a ready-made bag or to make my own bag?
  • The cut out collages as a collection and invitation to play with. To use the materials I used (index of my artistic intervention, charged with power from past exercises as a fetish, a relic?
  • Overall, a very process based work, The active engagement and arrangement by the spectator out of control, arbitrary. What could be seen as a metaphor for the ‘death of the author’ and how dependent a artwork is based on the spectator’s experience and interpretations.


Some aspects that is relevant to my work and distinguishes from Bianca Baldi and Marcel Duchamp:

  • A relationship to daily objects around us and how we establish a relationship and appreciate value
  • A connection to global trade and colonialismas Baldi  sees it in her work, of less importance. Though these connotations might come up with some viewers.
  • Possibly a connection to packaging materials as useful materials trashed, a notion that could lead up to ideas of recycling (what I am doing), ecology and sustainability relating to themes as plastic trash in the oceans. An entertaining approach here is the Plastic Soup, that even distributes an app for tracking one’s own plastic footprint
  • I do not intend to place my work as a critique of one or the other. Although, this might also come up. 
  • Question how far I am moving away from Duchamp’s notion of ‘museum in a box’, embracing more the playfulness and awareness of interaction than a deferred reference to art spaces.
  • Most important feature for me is how I connect with the objects and establish relationships. Objects performing through a sculptural painting. Objects that possibly could be connotated with fetishes.

I am aware that those connotations with whatever I will come up with might be triggered – or not. When it is out, it is out.  Feedback received from peers through two hangout events suggested more a magic, entertaining aspect rather than a critical.

Here, I will bring together ‘Collectibles’ and ‘Surprise Box’ into my final ‘Paint4OCA’ box .

Object-Box: Paint4OCA


Stefan513593 - A2 - Object Box - Paint4OCA

Fig. 3: A2 – Object Box – Paint4OCA -Sketchbook ideas

  • Paint: what and how? => decision to scale-down my larger walking through painting from exercise 2.5, by that colors also chosen
  • Scale & installation: how to get clarity on how to unbox and re-box? to unfold and to fold?
  • Arrangement: a box to unfold, a smaller box embedded in the bigger box (matryoshka idea, also a new another level of engagement in space and as time-based performance)
  • Instructions? what to give and what to support with? 
  • Unfolding: in a sense of expansion and development (of curiosity, play, joy)


Display, Discovery – both words a mix of different connotations

       DIS: disorientation, dysfunction, displacement

               to COVER: to conceal, to hide, to cover up, to box 

                  to PLAY: to play, to enjoy, to entertain, to relax

        a title – a theme – a site:



I continued step by step, discerning how many objects I want to put in, how to paint them, how to paint the ground and boxes, and how to makes sense in ‘building a box’. I felt that paint and painting objects out supported me in finding a way forward till a final result.

A sequence of painting progression, arranging, and organising (slider):

Stefan513593 -A2 - object box - PAINT4OCA - #1
Step 1
Stefan513593 -A2 - object box - PAINT4OCA - #2
Step 2
Stefan513593 -A2 - object box - PAINT4OCA - #3
Step 3
Stefan513593 -A2 - object box - PAINT4OCA - #4
Step 4
Stefan513593 -A2 - object box - PAINT4OCA - #5
Step 5
Stefan513593 -A2 - object box - PAINT4OCA - #6
Step 6

The unfolding of the box as video with kind of instructions

The unfolded box with staged objects – reminiscence to my previous large scale Walking-Through-Painting:

Stefan513593 - A2 - Object Box - Paint4OCA - Unfolded and staged box

Fig. 4: A2 – Object Box – Paint4OCA – Unfolded and staged box

The unfolding of the smaller box – the Cut-Out Box:

Stefan513593 - A2 - Object Box - Paint4OCA - Cut-Out Box

FIg. 5: A2 – Object Box – Paint4OCA – Cut-Out Box


.. and a inventory list accompanying the box:

Stefan513593 - A2 - Object Box - Inventory

Fig. 6: Object-Box – Inventory

With that the box is complete – it will be submitted as assignment piece and for OCA Showcase (see separate page)



  • Questions about performing objects, unfolding boxes, establishing relationships with objects that could be possibly connotated with fetishes surrounded my work. 
  • A sense of play and entertainment was intended. The process of unfolding as important as establishing a display, even not more. The final ‘painting’ becomes just one way of making, a difference in itself, a multiplicity of ideas generated by the spectator who wants to get involved. 
  • I am aware that I moved away from a display only (step 1 in above development sequence , slider) and moved towards a more engaging playful unfolding of a box, bringing the spectator into objecthood of the work – and in relation to one’s awareness of interaction. The idea of display and archive might be worth to look at, one thing to tackle differently in my Spatial Box
  • Objects as collectibles or as things to play with and to trash them afterwards. What changes with painting beyond a mere design aspect is a different level of understanding how I do relate, and possibly how the spectator will do relate, to them.
  • Found objects can be transformed into new objects, the original purpose (packaging material) disguised and concealed. Painting allows a different attention, bright colors are more ‘interesting’ than mute or grey colors.
  • The idea of a wider impact of the works need to be seen as it allows a reading on different levels: 
    1. Play
    2. Unfolding driven by curiosity
    3. Interaction with dysfunctional objects to make sense
    4. A detailing of instructions and display associating with archive and stored memories
    5. The box, a ready-made as container for painting
    6. Objects as fetishes to build a relationship with




Related Posts
A6 – Independent Pre-assessment Review
A2 – Reflection on Tutorial
  • Sue Parr
    Oct 13,2018 at 1:46 PM

    This is so engaging. There is something about boxes that calls for our attention – they are such active objects that we desperately want to engage / interact with & unpack them as you say. A sense of potentiality and interest. This work really speaks! Good luck with the showcase submission- I hope this work gets in.

    • Stefan
      Oct 13,2018 at 5:18 PM

      Thanks, Sue – just now in talk with Joanne as they are planing to include it (installation vice seems to be a bit different ) I am going to London that week for a few days. Are you in London that week as well?

  • Oct 5,2018 at 6:55 PM

    Oh my! This is rather interesting! I *love* how you used the OCA course materials box. The is multidimensionality in the meaning of the work. It is very playful, tapping into our sensations when we get the intro box from OCA to start off with a new fresh course. I also enjoy the fact that when you start taking out the items it is like a mini-theater with “characters” animated by the hands of the observer. The observer is actively involved in creating the meaning as well as physical presence is an absolute must. Well done Stefan – very contemporary of you 🙂 Cheers!

    • Stefan
      Oct 5,2018 at 7:45 PM

      thank you, Marija, glad to hear that it resonates and you can relate to the unboxing experience . What I call
      unfolding because as you say it can develop into something more than just the pieces – the whole consists also of the experience and potential the beholder adds to it. It is now on the way to Barnsley, and if I am lucky it will be visible for SHOWCASE in London. Thanks again and wish you happy drawing and a wonderful weekend

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