Wednesday, May 15, 2013

existence precedes essence: the ashtray teacup philosoprop

Ashtray/Teacups, Glass teacups, ceramic paint, letterpress “EXISTENCE essence” tag, open edition begun circa 1995.

Back during my teenage obsession with the existentialists, in an effort to help me understand what Sartre meant by existence precedes essence, my father (a philosophy buff) used the example of a teacup that is used as an ashtray.  A person (or thing) is not necessarily what he or she (or it) purports to be - we are instead defined by our outward function and actions. If the teacup is used as an ashtray, can it really be considered a teacup, or does it take on a new existence as an ashtray?

The Ashtray/Teacup is perhaps my earliest philosoprop.