ASRL / PERPETUAL 2014
 
Local Ready-Mades at Vintage Hardware
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 03-24-11
Vintage Hardware in Astoria, OR
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On March 12th, Vintage Hardware, a hardware and design shop in Astoria, Oregon contributed to the city's 2nd annual Saturday Art Walk by hosting a one-night-only exhibit displaying found art by students from the nearby Clatsop Community College. The burgeoning artists cited, among others, none other than Marcel Duchamp and his ready-mades, as inspiration.

Paul and Becky, the shop's proprietors, offer the community their services in interior design and construction respectively. The couple loves to re-appropriate the discarded object, to de-contextualize and re-contextualize ancient household detritus and give it new meaning and fresh purpose in a new home. Paul and Becky recently relocated to the Astor Hotel, a town landmark circa 1922 that stood largely abandoned before its newest owners selected it as the site for their shop's new home. If not anti-instutional or even brazen in intent, the setting for the show provided a fittingly playful atmosphere in which to display the Introduction to Design class's takes on the ready-made.

What a great community event for Duchampians in Oregon!

...Source
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India's Tata Nano to follow the trajectory of Duchamp's Fountaine?
By Jenny Fan
posted: 03-23-11
Tata Nano at Cornell University (March, 2011) Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com
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Any purported parallel trajectory between Marcel Duchamp’s Fountaine (1918) and India’s Tata Nano may strike many as odd.  After all, what does the most infamous urinal that rocked the art world in the twentieth century has in common with a compact car produced in India in the twenty-first? If the story of  Duchamp’s Fountain largely describes an inconsequential object, morphed into a concept, that has indelicately grown in momentum with time, what could we expect from the Nano and its implications for India and the world: the beginnings of the conceptual automobile, or a fugacious glory run hitched on Duchampian legacy?


Introduced first domestically in 2009 by India’s Tata Motors, the Nano is billed as the ultra cheap, “people’s car.”  At $2,900, as of last December, it is considered the world’s most affordable compact car.  Its appearance is like an American golf car, but with 2 cylinder petrol, four-doors and four-passengers.  Some of the quirks of a Nano are its absence of a stereo player, air bags and power steering.  For anyone whose childhood dream is to drive on the outskirts of Stuttgart on the German Autobahn while listening to Celine Dion, the Nano might not be the ideal vehicle.  The Nano in India, however, is financially within reach of the growing middle class, many of whom are looking to upgrade from motor scooters as a manifestation of social mobility.

The Nano, after being introduced in the U.S. in 2010, was adopted by Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art for its Winter 2011 exhibition, "Unpacking the Nano: the Price of the World’s Most Affordable Car.”  The exhibition features a dismantled Nano suspended in air and a concept Nano with two used motor scooters.  A symposium was held earlier this March examining the car design and the socio-cultural implications of the Nano. Professor Arjun Appadural, one of the keynote speakers, addressed some of the issues concerning the latter.  One of his probes revolved around “what does the car want,” arguably recalling Dadaist sensibility. 


Appadural, currently the Goddard Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, began with a curt analysis of the Nano’s potential market outside of India, and the logistics of manufacturing, supplying and distributing the Nano worldwide. What with India’s exploding middle class, the Nano has the potential to create a burgeoning class of drivers who, not only will demand more from businesses as they become accustomed to the role of middle class consumers, but will also demand access to better roads, highways and other amenities (financing, credit, etc) from the government. 


Appadural asserted, “I am certain that those who buy, use and ride in the Nano will be induced to think more richly about their own social trajectories in an increasingly globalized world. It will give them no choice but to learn more about design, utility, price, energy, credit and other invisible parts of the infrastructure of modernity.”


He continued by echoing the wisdom of Jawaharla Nehru, the founding father of modern India, and J. R. D. Tata, who once asserted that “the future is a combination of great technical visions and of great social transformations” both of which are dependent on the “enthusiasm of the masses.”

The "enthusiasm of the masses," however, is engineered.  It will derive only a small fraction of its vigor from the aesthetic and design of, say, the actual vehicle.  Most of it will arise from the confrontation between present exigencies and the solutions of creative minds.  India, being the world’s largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies, not only needs innovative solutions, but needs them to engineer, educate and feed its growing middle class.  Engineering its middle class and engineering the "enthusiasm of the masses” is almost like the chicken and the egg; whichever comes first is no longer relevant.  The point is about defining and warping an authentic, modern Indian experience.  Its middle class families are faced with, not the violence and trauma of World War I that the Dadaists had to confront, but the violence of modernity that has been thrust upon them chaotically. 


The Nano may bill itself, thus, as the “anti-car.”  Everything for which the conventional twentieth-century car stood, the Nano stands the opposite.  Whereas the twenty-century automobile was concerned with largeness, speed, efficiency and function, the Nano ignores, or at least prides itself on adhering to what Appadural sees as Indian society's “density, intricacy and manoeurability.”  Whereas the titular American car is static, and used as a passive tool of transportation by many families, the Nano is dynamic; it is the yardstick of an Indian family’s learning curve in becoming educated middle class consumers and engaging in their responsibilities as twenty-first century Indian citizens. 


Appadural also sees the Nano as a tool with which an Indian family can realize their social mobility and sensibilities of modern living.  The Nano helps an Indian faily define and navigate the increasingly complicated world of automobiles.  "To such a person, and to his or her family, the Nano is a tool for imagining the future,” Appadural continued "The Nano has the potential to spark the Indian taste for packing more into less, not because all Indians are ascetics, or Bauhasians or green philosophers, but because they like the intricacy and the intensity of sociality."


The Nano, in Appadural’s words, has become a portal and non-literal vehicle for an Indian citizen to become a stronger, more reflective consumer/citizen.  That the Nano “stimulates the capacity of Indian consumers to think about the future as something which they themselves can shape through their daily lives,” he asserted, is an amazing feat and complement of the Nano, to say the least.  The social and cultural trajectory that Appadural paved for the Nano continues as follows, “Marcel Duchamp showed us that today's urinal can become tomorrow's found object, in the right artistic hands...[...]” 


To date, the Nano hasn’t been selling well in India though, nor has it made an appearance in the automobile market elsewhere.  It may have been netted in a Catch-22.  The cheap price of the Nano has made it affordable for the growing middle class, but that as the middle class grows, its mounting aspiration to live better lives needs more significant if substantive status symbols, which put it at odds with the image of the Nano. For the most part, the most popular and best-selling cars in India are still small, fuel-efficient Japanese-made cars like Maruti Suzuki.  At Tato Motors, there are also growing problems with production costs and addressing some of the engineering quirks.

Cornell University’s “Unpacking the Nano” exhibition at the Johnson Museum runs until March 29, 2011

...Source
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Man Ray's underexposed Muse, Lover and Colleague takes the Stage.
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 03-22-11
Lee Miller, by Man Ray
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Never attaining the name recognition she deserves, the intrepid photographer Lee Miller cut a swath through the 20th century that few, male or female, can equal. Her life story traversed some of its central dramas: artistic, stylistic, technological, humanitarian, geopolitical. It also included a nude dip in Hitler's bathtub.

Now, her forbidable narrative is the subject of Behind the Eye, a new play by Carson Kreitzer. It will debut at the Cincinatti Playhouse on April 2nd, after undergoing development at the Playwright's Center in Minneapolis. Kreitzer is a veteran of the Playhouse, having contributed two prior dramas, including a work about Robert Oppenheimer, so he is well attuned to the historical period.

Some of Miller's weightiest accomplishments include her documentation of concentration camps  and the napalming at St. Malo as a war photographer for Conde Nast: she had worked her way to this unimaginable position (for a woman then) from the daughter of an amateur photographer in Poughkeepsie, NY, and later a model for Vogue. On the way, she became intimately familiar with Man Ray during an intense period in the early 1930's, Paris, where she had traveled specifically to seek out the budding Surrealist. She helped him develop important photographic techniques, such as solarization, and is believed to have taken some of the pictures attributed to him. After their separation, she worked commercially in fashion and celebrity; after World War II, during which she established herself indelibly, Miller came to occupy the crux of a lively UK scene. It was frequented by such avant-garde statesmen as Max Ernst, Henry Moore, Jean Debuffet and Pablo Picasso; Miller's own vertiginous and comic portraiture from this period easily held its among this crew.

Behind the Eye, which grapples with this woman's picaresque achievements, will feature, James Saba as Pablo Picasso, Alex Podulke as Paul Eluard, Alan Cox as Man Ray, and Sarah Agnew as Lee Miller herself. Mark Wing-Davey will direct. Through May 1st.

...Source
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The Center for Olfactory Art Presents...
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 03-20-11
The Museum of Arts and Design that will house the new Center for Olfactory Art in NYC
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Marcel Duchamp is credited with composing the first ready-made, Fountain, in 1917 and the first art installation, Etant-Donnes (1946-1966). In 1938, however, Duchamp also created what was one of the world's first olfaction-based installations for the International Surrealist Exhibition at the Beaux-arts Gallery in Paris. Duchamp would design the experience of the exhibit: he transformed the main hall into a "subterranean cave" by hanging bags of coal from the ceiling and filling the room with the smell of roasted coffee grounds. Needless to say, visitors of the Beaux-arts Gallery were scandalized. But why should they have been? Most likely, because a visit to a gallery does not necessarily require tremendous involvement: the visitor is usually free to casually either look or not look at whichever works he chooses. But, unless he suffers from anosmia, a visitor to Duchamp's main hall had no choice but to experience the aromas, not to mention the sights, in the room. Isn't that why we find people who wear too much perfume or cologne, or people who don't shower for that matter, so obtrusive? They give us no choice but to smell them.

The fact of the matter is that smell, if ephemeral by nature, can be difficult to avoid. If I don't like a painting, I don't have to look at it for longer than I have to. And, I hardly need worry about whether a Monet will give me a headache, induce nausea, or stir memories from my subconscious. But the same cannot be said of smell. Of course, Marcel Duchamp should only approve of such possible side effects to visiting a gallery of scents. But, lamentably, it seems that exploding the walls of mainstream art is not the imperative of Chandler Burr, the curator for the new Center for Olfactory Art's upcoming exhibit, The Art of Scent. Proper ventilation will be installed in the galleries, and museum visitors will have to push a button to catch a whiff of a fragrance before it dissipates.

Burr explains, "What I intend to do is strip away the marketing, PR and commercial presentation of what are stupendous works of art—but are not yet understood as such." The exhibit is advertised to be an unaffected exploration of the intricacies involved in olfactory composition. This is not be a particularly rousing raison d'être, not to mention one that is diametrically opposed to Duchamp's efforts eighty years ago. Maybe aromas need to be 'understood' and contextualized before they can acquire substance. But, is it wrong if I'd just rather imagine Charlize Theron emerging from a sea of gold when I catch a hint of J'adore in the air?

The Center for Olfactory Art, an arm of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, is due to open its first exhibit, The Art of Scent 1889-2011, in November 2011. Though guaranteed to be worth the visit, whether the show will be the "game-changer" it promises to be or not remains to be seen. Or, should I say, sniffed out? For more on the place of olfaction in the art world, see Barbara Pollack's article Scents and Sensibility in this month's issue of ARTnews.

...Source
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shenanigans in Washington Square
By Jenny Fan
posted: 03-19-11
Duchamp? walking away from the Washington Arch, NY (date unknown)
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This picture of Duchamp was caught on the linked webpage by kismet. It brought to mind the story Ralph Gardner of the Wall Street Journal had recently chronicled about his adventure inside the Washington Arch.  According to Parks department head preservationist John Krawchuck, Duchamp and his cohort of "Bohemian" artists, such as John Sloan and poet Gertrude Drick, had not only frequented and left their mark in the village, but had once broken into the arch and climbed to its roof: “they had a picnic and a party and drank tea late into the night.”  Gardner, today, entered the arch through its western leg with the guide of Krawchuck.  The arch sustains a 102-step spiral staircase that opens to a skylight door, the roof and vaulted attic.  Close to a hundred years prior, Duchamp had probably done the same thing while ascending the staircase with his jar of crackers and tea sets.  He may have seen cars wheezing under through the arch (which became forbidden only since 1971), the rows of Greek revival houses to the north that Gardner saw today, and a white marble fountain, that today has been relocated to the center of the square. 

...Source
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