Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cinco de Mayo : Deep Thoughts by Allan Smitheel

4th Dimensional Chess

Both Marcel Duchamp & Joseph Beuys were early proponents of ‘Alternative Facts’ & sowing confusion.

Duchamp’s ‘Ready-Mades’ were commonly believed to be objects that were manufactured as opposed to being handmade & were transformed into art through choices made by the artist though an anonymous editorial in ‘Blind Man’, an Art Periodical published by Duchamp & Art Cronies (May 1917) contradicts the “ready-made” premise.

“Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, and placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.”

You might say this is an example of ‘infrathin’ (french: “inframince”) a neologism coined by Duchamp that is defined as a form of difference, one that simultaneously destabilizes and generates.

“Difference” for Duchamp creates a gap that destabilizes language, meaning, and identity. To wit, the warmth of a seat (which has just been vacated).

Two examples of ‘Infrathin Art’ & “Alternative Facts” co-mingling are ‘In Advance of a Broken Arm’ (1915) & ‘Fountain’ (1918) Are they hand-made or manufactured/found objects? Are the pieces, in reality, just a snow shovel & a urinal with new names/titles? Have you pulled a brain muscle yet thinking about this?

The Artist as Shaman

Joseph Beuys fashioned the myth that Tatar shamans rescued & saved his life in 1944 after the German plane he was piloting (he was actually the gunner) went down after being hit by Russian artillery. According to legend & self-mythos, Tatar shamen found Beuys & rubbed him with animal fat and nursed him back to health in a tent made of felt, wrapping his body in felt as well.

This was the bedrock foundation for Beuys’ artwork including the 1974 performance piece ‘I Like America And America Likes Me’ where for 3 days he shared a solitary NYC space [Rene Block Gallery] with a coyote, a wild beast often considered to represent America’s untamed spirit.

Beuys also used alot of fat [Fat Chair 1964] & felt [’Felt Suit’ 1970] furthering the self-sustained mythology.

Do you see a blueprint or Kanye thread?