September 25, 2014

"3rd Order Readymades" (Part 4)

Conceptually combined commodity objects, 3rd Order works comprise nearly a third of the exhibit, and I take this as a positive sign in the transitional development of the humble readymade in the 21st century. The combination of commodity objects, itself a remnant of the Surrealist theory of juxtaposition, can awaken subliminal meanings in the viewer, infusing the objects with reverie, apprehension or humor.

Individually, the 3rd Order artists bring varying skill-sets to the game: some couple a walker with ab-cruncher (Renee Regan), or Toast electronic devices (John Cairns). Others use their titles as punch-lines; Anne Mourier mounts a pair of domed plate covers on doilies to recall My First Bra and M. L. Van Nice’s dried fruit in a box suggests that it’s Altogether Too Late for the Pratfall. Chee Wang Ng offers 108 Global Rice Bowls in the exhibit’s only video, featuring a harmonic succession of differing white bowls, each heaped with rice and accompanied by a single chime. Adrienne Moumin puts her Baby Shoes in Cage; Michael Hyman makes Pop Art with a crushed Coke can and a pristine Pepsi badge; and Alex Mayer installs a double-threaded screw in the business end of a pencil and screws the pencil into the gallery wall.

Two 3rd Order artists stand out in particular. Ruth Lozner demonstrates her respect for the readymade’s legacy in Autumn Landscape Somewhere, a piece that honors the “rectified” idea of using existent artworks to comment on art, like L.H.O.O.Q. Her brilliance lies in how she adds a “paint-by-numbers” template to partially mask her “Picture Craft Oil Painting” readymade’s stale fawns-in-nature cliché, setting up a subversive play between subject and object.

Travis Childers’ Stapleshirt displays his understanding of the visual power of juxtaposition, and also his obsessive adherence to repetition. A work of intellectual rigor and dexterous athleticism, this shirt is both homage to, as well as critique of, punk fashion and design. Further still, his readymade is a symbolic nod to two heroic Conceptual Art projects in the decades since Duchamp — On Kawara’s date paintings and Roman Opalka’s Infinity series — where both artists conceived Herculean tasks to devotionally pursue.

[NEXT WEEK: PART 5, “4TH ORDER READYMADES”] 

IMAGE: Travis Childers, Staple Shirt, 2012; white shirt, staples, gel medium; 23x32 inches; © Copyright by Travis Childers; photo by MCB.

GALLERY TALK: Join curator, Mark Cameron Boyd, for his talk about Readymade@100 this Saturday, 9/27, 4:00 - 5:00 pm; info & directions here.

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