Derrida Reformed

Written by K Malcolm Richards, Derrida Reformed was a recommendation by my tutor. These are my notes.


Deconstruction from Heideggers original use, Derrida didn’t take it as a destructive term, more as a chance to see something in all its parts, to review to find out if its still fit for purpose.

Felt that speech was being held as more important than writing as it was of an instance and true whereas writing could be copied, changed forged etc.

Ecriture: an expanded notion of writing: one perceiving any physical trace, including a brushstroke, as something that can be thought of in terms of linguistics.

sign, signifier the object signified the meaning.

However, the meaning is only in relation to the context it is used and the culture and language of those it is used with.

The signified is never complete, its meaning has more than one answer and will change over time.

An original can be ‘supplemented’ meaning it may not have as much power? either through essays about it, copies by other artists or other pictures around a theme.

Parasite an organism in its own right and part of its host that enables it to live

Para also nods to unexplained phenomena, which leads to sight

Frames, physical things that separate work from the wall or framing in a museum or gallery ie how its put forward culturally etc.

context, when and where was a work of art made?

Derrida notes that we’ve only ever discussed whats inside or outside the frame, never the frame itself

Derrida makes a claim that the frame embodies properties of the work?

Frame surrounds us.

Labels allow us to understand the work better and act as a framing tool

Aesthetic contemplation is not pure given that we are taught how to do it, so the venue for the art has framed our interpretation because of our mindset on the establishment before we arrive.

Title acts as a point of entry into the work

Williams curation of a museum exhibit allows a link back through the historical objects in a museums archive to make us think about the past in more detail, not obliterating the bit of it we may feel uncomfortable with.

The signature on or in the painting, on the back, how does this fit into Peregon?

Clothing discussed through Kant’s clothing on statues Kenneth Clark, the nude, a figure seen without overt sexuality, add a veil and its not nude, its naked.

Using nude models in unusual spaces while wearing small amounts of designer gear look back through the contents of the image to question the labels and value of the items on a nude model?


Derridas essay on Van Gogh’s shoes. refers to previous essays about ownership of the shoes in the picture and that they aren’t real, don’t know they are a pair and distance ourselves from them the moment we think they are. Touched on holocaust, Heideggers text mirrored some forming Nazi propaganda. Then because we are dealing with the owner of the shoes, ownership in arts (ownership of the objects represented), adds another layer.

Marche, march, touch. The marks on the art.

An artists work is recognisable as a series of repeated marks that represent them. Whilst the artist remains absent.

Heidegger and Schapiro both attach an ownership to the shoes which hints more to their attachment to the narrative they have created.

The shoes represent an inside and outside, they conform to the foot and there are lots of theories on shoes down through history, including Freud and fetish, Derrida then starts on inside and outside of the body as well, including genitalia.


Derrida wrote about De Man, who had been a friend in life. He had to acknowledge his authorship in the text.

Who can judge art? a picture of a cow, looked at by people knowledgeable in the art world, are too involved in aesthetics to give an innocent judgement. The cow is the best informed.

Old tale Zeuxis and Perhassios. Two paintings in a paint-off, one of grapes that a bird then tries to eat and the other is the canvas veiled, so by fooling the artist, the veiled canvas works best?

Innocent eye. Rousseau.


Comic books of 1980’s, using marginal issues like Derrida to pull something apart to analyse. Also they blur good and evil unlike the originals, as well as pushing all situations to there ultimate option thus exposing the flaws.

Pop art, as a way of discussing fine art in a modern world, of asking questions as to how we deal with this new age and the technologies.

The title being used to explain, a marginal method used well like Derrida. Williams.

Uses a marginal idea, explains why its marginal and how it supports the structure of the rest of the piece, whilst destabilising that structure.

Turner nominee cast of the inside of a house, placed in its street which was about to be knocked down. showed us how we live in our intimate spaces.


A ruin is also the decay of the building it once was and the potentially romantic destination it turned into through decay.

Derrida wrote a book around an exhibition he put on, work surrounded by stencilled text, 2 elements working together.

Of sight, blind soothsayers capable of seeing future. a poet verbalising images to the future they have seen. is the visual more important than the word?

Imagine a world with sensory input with no word to describe it.

Derrida links this to a type of purity, Ponty leads to a blindspot, string theory rests on that which we cannot see.

Benjamin’s view of cities, collapsing decaying bourgeoise structures

“Temporal dimension of structures” The fact that how we believe the world was created shapes our values. A structure of identity.

On to self portraits, revealing the Artists soul Rembrandt and van Gogh revealing their individuality.

The self portrait captures a moment that is over, bringing decay “every image we ascribe our identity to becomes a mini tomb”

difference marks these interpretations as transformations. (they are always what we choose to portray, we can destroy the ones we don’t like).

Corinthians woman traces lovers silhouette in candle soot, acts as a ruin when the owner is at war.

Quinn’s frozen blood face, needs freezer to continue and will change/decay over time.

the blind spot gets filled with memory

purity and wholeness of the original, the ruin is already implicit in the initial idea the memory structured in the past.

blinking and mourning: mourning involves taking in a piece of the other intense identification in relation to another. absence.

Holocaust, privileging Auschwitz we forget all the other sites where atrocities took place, other acts of genecide around the world, right to our current time.

Patriarchal society Derrida mocks this while pointing out that male domination has come from male dominated philosophy.

Feminism shouldn’t all be grouped under one heading (true) leads to a stereotype that should be avoided.

Hirschhorn instant memorials, observers relate to the artist, the reason for his work, the objects of his work or create false memories to justify them in their location.


Postcards, the error in relaying messages, only half of Derrida’s texts appear, decay means some portions that do exist have disappeared.

All acts of communication have the opportunity to become public (posthumous release of artefacts). also how true is whats written?

Work of van Gogh has taken on the quasi – relic status of his history and mythologising.

Shit created by machine in the foods available in a city and artist selling his crap at the weight of gold.


Photo essays, mixing mediums to activate deconstruction

appropriation; images from art in the past, redone in photography,

Photographs, how real? staged.

California porn industry run in areas of suburban housing, juxtapose of Dr’s and lawyers houses being used in porn industry and funding upwardly mobile lifestyles of those with solid occupations. the moral dilemma of porn in an upwardly middle subset of America.


online/televisual comes to mean ecriture, our representation over media

“The way we frame the world determines the meanings we construct.”


Richards, K(2008) Derrida reframed. First edition. London. I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd


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