In this book Martha Buskirk addresses the fact that since the early 1960s, almost everything can be and has been called art. Among other practices, contemporary artists have employed mass-produced elements, impermanent materials, and appropriated imagery, have incorporated performance and video, and have created works through instructions carried out by others. Furthermore, works of art that lack traditional signs of authenticity or permanence have been embraced by institutions long devoted to the original and the permanent.
Buskirk explores how artists active in the 1980s and 1990s have recombined strategies of the art of the 1960s and 1970s. She also shows how the mechanisms through which art is presented shape not only readings of the work but the work itself. She uses her discussion of the readymade and conceptual art to explore broader issues of authorship, reproduction, context, and temporality.