Children of Mutt
By Scott Martin
posted: 12-10-09
Kyle Fokken, Uptet
Image Source
The recycled provenance of Fountain and other objects associated with Marcel Duchamp exerts considerable theoretical influence over contemporary artists who incorporate found or discarded materials into their work. But is personal authorship the factor that derives art from trash or, as sculptor/curator Pat Buckohr puts it, something from nothing? Duchamp argued that all creative acts are collaborations, and so the true parentage of a work of art is always in some sense complex and overdetermined: the artist's role is as a "medium" (possibly -- perhaps always -- only one of several) through which the materials are refined.

In this context, the pseudonymous character of "Richard Mutt" opens up new questions about the ecology of artistic creation but of artistic identity as well. Where do the raw materials that constitute the artist come from? Where do they go when the artist's career ends? How does post-Duchampian art (a loaded term) struggle with the tension between re-recycling the work of Mutt and the imperative to express something else?


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