Seduction of Duchamp: A Bay Area Response
Curated by Hanna Regev
Past: Exhibition at Slaughterhouse Space, in Healdsburg, CA, Fall 2009
Future: Upcoming viewing: In January 2010, ArtZone471, San Francisco, Ca stay posted
The exhibition displays Duchampian strategy itself with a remake of Duchamp’s works (is this readymade curatorship? Lovely idea and based so completely on duchampian concept)– all in one place with a closing based upon an historical event connected with Duchamp’s visit to SF and held a “reenactment of a famous art panel discussion in 1949 with Marcel Duchamp, Frank Lloyd Wright, Clement Greenberg amongst others”. (info from DeWitt Cheng). For me, taking a trip up for the closing did not work out and so I went up to the exhibition in late October on Halloween. The Slaughterhouse is a gallery based in Healdsburg which used to be, as name implies, an actual slaughterhouse.
Even the first room intrigued me. I have been quite interested in Ken Goldberg’s works and this one no different in intrigue. He places a small silver-appearing beautiful ornate box upon a classical column-like element and then inside (which I cannot see, only am able to read about) a flash drive containing something which only he and Hanna, the curator, know – what a secret to share and for how long, I wonder. This work totally updates Duchamp for the mind of the contemporary viewer. It immediately presents insight into the whole exhibition concept. Here, 36 artists pay tribute to Duchamp while engaging his influence in their created pieces.
(Piece referenced above is Goldberg, Ken,
After Duchamp: A Bruit Secret)
In this same first room I encounter two small boxes placed at eye-level by John DeMerritt and Nora Pauwels which I can view, through small holes, the inside. Once again, a duchampian idea remake, and a take off on Dada boxes, once again, contemporized. Note in my images, you can see my camera viewfinder in the mirrored reflection from the back of the small boxes.
(Pieces referenced DeMerritt, John & Pauwels, Nora,
Four Short Films,
I will return to this room on my way out of this concrete slab structure known as The Slaughterhouse, but for now I move on.
The next room focuses on a small number of works. Strung from the ceiling is Ray Beldner’s remake of Duchamp’s Bottlerack yet, along with this immediate notation/quotation, I am also reminded of Jasper John’s famous quote regarding art making, “Take an object, do something to it, then do something else to it.” as I notice an oddly subtle profile view of a duchampian nose or at least something that appears to be – Delightful! a direct Duchamp quote created with this additional complexity. On top of this I wonder, “Did Ray really make this?” and I imagine the skillsets required to create something like this.
Piece referenced is Beldner, Ray,
Je Me Degoute de L’tEgouttoir
With so many references to Duchamp in this exhibition – I feel I am looking at a visual biography. I see his interests recreated, rearranged, organized in innovative ways throughout pointing to a very historically grounded format. Look what has happened to the Mona Lisa (L.H.O.O.Q.) – look what has happened to his suitcase (Box in a Valise) now containing an assemblage of his works and artifacts to keep for all time.
(Note Taylor, Sandra Ortiz,
Crossing over, Duchamp’s Shadow,)
The verbal basis connected with Duchampian concept is digested thoroughly in neon tubing as in “Eye Changed My Mind”. Many of the works in the exhibtion cause a deep chuckling resonance within.
Work referenced is Linder, Charles,
Eye Changed my Mind,
Stopping at Naomi Kremer’s digital projection of “Nude descending a Staircase” – (titled Rhythm Section ) based upon a famous piece mocked in the 1913 Armory show that ended up in SF (according to http://www.artzone461.com/exhibitions/0910-duchamp-p.html) – I cannot see the nude descending for some reason, only the abstract painting with a projected overlay. Within the exhibition announcements the animated descent is clearly seen and even in my own photograph. This mystery in mind, I recollect the interest the Duchamp painting holds in connection with animation sequences and its ties to filmmaking and cartoons. Duchamp was more than strangely ahead of his time even with his ‘original’ cubist-based work. Here in this remake by Kremer, the tying of Duchamp’s “Nude…” to animation becomes a very cool presentation relating so well to our time and place.
A work that departs from, yet at the same time incorporates Duchampian ideas, is the work by David Broom, cleverly titled “Ready tu m’aides”. Painstakingly crafted, a series of plexiglass/silkcreened plate line up to create overlays of photographed discarded objects. I think to myself, OMG it’s beautiful. Also to note, it is another object-based artwork encapsulating, via container, duchampian attitudes. I am very into this aspect (duchampian attitudes contained in boxes) which I see many places throughout the exhibition.
As I walk around the Slaughterhouse, I am immersed in reading the small textual captions which accompany many of the works. I think – ‘how Duchampian of everyone to tie in their visual creations together with words’. I am reminded of the title “In advance of the broken arm” connected with the readymade snowshovel and a smile comes to my face. This is just like a museum – and I hope the entire exhibition ends up in one – so we can remember this for all time. The exhibition, in its concept, functions in many ways like an installation work. Within a different context, the exhibition could clearly be seen as an artwork in its own right.
More!! There is so much more than I can discuss but one last moment. Pat Lenz’s installation. As you meander through these mirrors which are shaped as Male/Female symbols, you see yourself. Towards the back of the installation, after moving through and engaging with these dangling elements, one is greeted by black and white video clips. Duchamp as Rrose Selavy in NY – so fun to see these! Pat Lenz titles this installation as The Crossdressedroom.
Chess is here too – connected to the time when Duchamp gave up making art yet I read with interest Theodora Varney Jones’ articulation of a Heraclites quote, “ You can’t step into the same river twice” and this artist’s interest in relating to the idea of repetition . In doing so, Jone’s denies the aspect of what the work ‘is’ (Chess Set) in a way similar to that of Magritte’s well-known piece “C’est n’est pas une pipe.” This work is titled No Game.
work referenced here is No Game, 1998, Theodora Varney Jones
On the way out I stop to pause at one last work (by Lenz), this one of the artist’s signature style works, a Duchamp portrait in fiberglass. I read the title “The thought that counts” and experience inner laughter as I relate with the brilliance of the title in the context of the exhibition.
This exhibition is a must-see when it is revived in San Francisco itself.
For sake of time I am unable to talk about all of the works that bedazzle – maybe in a future blog! This is just to give a ‘taste’ of this amazing exhibition / installation of Duchampian ideas.
For more info on artworks in the exhibition and future exhibition location(s) and times see:
Seduction of Duchamp – Bay Area Artists’ Response.
Artists: Diane Althoff, Jerry Ross Barrish, Ray Beldner, Richard Berger, Milton Bowens, David Broom, Luis Delgado, John DeMerritt, Laura Britt Greig, Ken Goldberg, Rebecca Goldfarb, German Herrera, Gregangelo Herrera, Charles Hobson, Mary Daniel Hobson, Reuven Itelman, Zehava Itelman Theodora Varnay Jones, David King, Naomie Kremer, Pat Lenz, Jose Ramon Lerma, Charles Linder, Bernie Lubell, Malcolm Lubliner, Charlie Milgrim, Jann Nunn, Zoe Ogrydziak, Nora Pauwels, Luke Prillinger, Tessie Barrera-Scharaga, Charles Shere, Sandra Ortiz Taylor, Luther Thie, Jan Wurm. Curated by Hanna Regev.