Etant donnes
By Cayla Lewis
posted: 02-09-09
Marcel Duchamp �tant donn�s: 1. La chute d�eau, 2. Le gaz d��clairage 1946-1966
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In his article Private Lives, Public Gestures Jörg Heiser  draws a surprising conection between Marcel Duchamp's Étant donnés: 1. La chute d’eau, 2. Le gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas)(1946-66) and the movie  Rocky (1976).  Heiser argues that the lamp in Étant donnés  is a reference to the Statue of Liberty, a connection farther established by the phrase "Le gaz d’éclairage", a pun on La liberté éclairant le monde, the Statue of Liberty's official title.  By connecting the Statue of Liberty to an erotic image, Duchamp comments on the connection between the "abstract idea of freedom and enlightenment...and, equally significantly, the concrete presence of sexuality and desire".  While Duchamp presents Liberty as trapped behind a closed door, "traumatized [and] fragmented",  "Rocky, in turn, presents Liberty as an accessible goal, achieved through the combined efforts of channelling anger into sportsmanship and desire into social empathy".  Connecting Étant donnés to Rocky may seem far-fetched, but Heiser believes that "in their own ways, both frame the contradictions of the American Dream – its desires and frustrations, its confusions of sex and power – as seen through the eyes of an expatriate French artist and the son of an Italian blue-collar immigrant."  Despite the  differences between them,"both Étant donnés and Rocky render palpable the connections between intimate dreams and desires and the seemingly abstract political ideas of freedom and opportunity."


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