Over time a process of reification occurs, causing us to forget that
categories humans made up to help them better understand the world are artificially imposed by themselves. These divisions and labels come to feel like they are part of the natural order of life. Worldviews or narratives of history that are cloaked in institutional authority are perceived by many people to be more legitimate or trustworthy. Sterility, classification, organization, and empirically proven facts and data are some of these signifiers that, in our modern western mindsets, indicate a level of truth and authenticity.
Artists can help to expose these constructs as what they really are and, in doing so, illuminate each person’s agency in framing their reality and forming their own narratives. This paper examines the effects of considering the superficially imposed reality of categories and taxonomies as universal truths. The juxtaposition of unexpected elements can act to expose the frames of reality. These kinds of interventions by the artist can aid the viewer in recognizing their own ability to break out of their normal modes of looking. This can lead to greater empathy for others and understanding between groups of people. It can open up reality into something more fluid, more wondrous and multifaceted than it was previously thought to be.