Baroness Elsa’s “Ready-to-Wear” Poem-Objects
This chapter explores the interrelation between the everyday object and the art object in the work of New York Dada poet, pioneer assemblage sculptor and performance artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Her intermedial poetics revolves around an unprecedented intrusion of quotidian objects and mass-produced commodities in art and poetry, while her hybrid forms radically redefine both the visual artwork and the poem and do away with the boundaries between different kinds of artistic objects. This chapter situates her artistic practice in the context of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, while making important distinctions between them. Although the Baroness’ assemblages have been eclipsed by Duchamp’s work, she came up with a strikingly original poetics that is literally “ready-to-wear,” integrating singular arrays of objects into her radical self-performances which work toward developing new genres such as a living body assemblage or a body performance poem. This chapter argues that in Baroness Elsa’s “ready-to-wear” poem-objects unravels a radical and ironic craft which inextricably welds together the consumer product and the unique artwork.
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