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Ina Blom

A FEW WEEKS AGO, a major toothbrush manufacturer offered to send me, for critical review, a set of seventeen toothbrushes specially designed by artists. My first thought was: How—in a world in which an overwhelming emphasis on design and style may prompt you to channel anything from surfing vacations to armadillos every time you pick up your toothbrush—could a basic product like this possibly need more creative input? Had the economy, despite the crisis, hypostatized to a point where art’s promissory assertion of incalculable surplus value seemed a more reliable source of profit than the universal need for dental hygiene? Had the dental professions collectively decided to cash in on Marcel Duchamp’s 1919 check to his dentist Daniel Tzanck, issued by the fictional Teeth’s Loan and Trust Company?

Jokes aside, there was of course nothing surprising about this offer. All through the twentieth

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