[February 2 2017]
The readymade has many founding myths. Marcel Duchamp’s iconic, early readymade Fountain dates to 1917, exactly one hundred years ago. Since then the ordinary object elevated as a work of art by the mere choice of an artist has defined a whole century of art production. In 2017 this exhibition is not just a celebration of the readymade’s centenary, it also discloses a crime scene: Eva Presenhuber’s house and gallery in the Engadine valley are filled with ordinary objects of all kinds. The first room in the house is fenced off by ’do-not-cross’ tape – as found by Lutz Bacher – and marks the site of investigation. Ever since its first appearance the readymade has been linked to theft, to criminal activity. A readymade implies taking an existing object and claiming it’s authorship. Recent speculations even suggest that Fountain was not, as Duchamp declared, acquired from the J. L. Mott Iron Works in New York, but was in fact a ‘sculpture’ by Else von Freytag-Loringhoven (Germany, 1874–1927), ‘a poet of found objects’.
In today’s digital age the readymade has become an integral part of reality, and now that the internet has endless readymades on tap, theft has become production. The exhibition at Presenhuber’s house assembles various forms of readymade artworks in a domestic setting, where the artistic elevation of the museum or gallery space holds no sway. Readymades from completely different artistic practices are nakedly exposed in all their divergent typologies: as-found readymade, as-if readymade, pure readymade, assisted readymade, staged readymade, performed readymade, fantasy readymade …
On view until March 25th at the house of gallerist Eva Presenhuber, in Vna, Engadine Valley.
Photo Sonja Berta