This essay argues that the artwork’s opacity and purposively purposeless quality are a tacit refusal of the compulsory division between intellectual and manual labor, which afford the artwork a unique capacity to access an otherwise occluded totality. By analyzing conceptual work by the artist duo Claire Fontaine—who deploy Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s notion of market exchangism in their work—in relation to twentieth-century intellectual debates around representation, abstraction, and social synthesis, the essay develops a model of totality in a descriptive rather than prescriptive register. At issue is the artwork’s potential for dereification, whereby a given work of art may provide perceptual experience of the transactional logic that underpins and structures the social field.

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