September 13, 2014

"1st Order Readymades" (Part 2)

An object, usually singular, that is virtually an “off the shelf,” commodity item that is designated as art by the artist within the context of an institutionalized display; Duchamp’s Bottle Rack, Fountain and Trap (a coat-rack) are prime examples.(1) These unaltered or “pure objects” display the closest conceptual rigor and allegiance to Duchamp’s invention.

At first glance, Three standard lossages, an “osteological specimen” by Ana María Gómez López, suggests a moderate takeaway on the readymade’s power of contextualization. However, these “bones” are 3D printout replicas that have a “potential for commercial circulation, as their accompanying .obj files can be made rapidly available on fabrication websites.”(2) Gómez López riffs on Duchamp’s Three Standard Stoppages, a work of chance placement of string, to underline her idea that an individual’s bones rendered universal through commodification are re-contextualized (again) as an “art object.”

Such 1st Order readymades as Olga Alexander’s McCall’s block & lot #4620 (a jacket pattern), Larry Lairson’s Untitled (pole) and Angela Smalls’ Silver Raindrops, a pile of hex-head bolts, negate the essence of an object’s privileged usefulness via the artists’ choices and our institutional validation. Simultaneously, these objects both are and aren’t “art.”

Many of the 1st Order readymades rely on titles to maximize their frisson. Andrew Simmons unnerves us with his title proclaiming that a razorblade holds the Cure for Human Suffering, while Bill Conger promises that the wearer of his sunglasses will have the Deepest Darkest view. On a lighter note, it may be a stretch to connect Joseph Orzal’s Picasso, baby t-shirt to Reaganomics but we can easily envision Kristin Richards’ framing nail strips laid edge-to-edge on the floor as a Rug.


IMAGE: Detail of Rug 001 by Kristin Richards; 31,876 framing nails; 8x12 feet; photograph by the artist; © Copyright 2014. 

UPDATE: Michael O'Sullivan's Art Review at WAPO.

1. Duchamp wrote titles and/or signed some of these but most scholars do not view these inscriptions as alterations. In “The Unfindable Readymade,” art historian Hector Obalk says Duchamp gave us only 10 “pure objects” as readymades;

2. Quote from undated statement by Ana María Gómez López.

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