Elena Filipovic: The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (2013)

31 March 2016, dusan

“This study focuses on a series of fugitive operations that Marcel Duchamp incited in order to test, theorize, position, and even make his work as such. Not conventionally “artistic” in nature, even if intimately connected to the collection, presentation, reception, and valuation of art, these activities include Duchamp’s role as administrator, archivist, art advisor, curator, publicist, reproduction-maker, and salesman of his own oeuvre. Rather than merely procedural, auxiliary, or incidental, they might be thought of as constitutive, resulting in a still understudied but profoundly influential output by an artist who redefined so much of what, hence forth, would be called art. Here, those most iconic of Duchamp’s inventions, the readymades, although not the central objects of this study, are understood as significant insofar as they were not simply “nominated” to become artworks, but more importantly, because they were curated. It is precisely through curatorial operations—relative to much of Duchamp’s production, and constituting one of the central activities that this dissertation explores—that the artist rendered the discourse, institutions, marketing, and presentational strategies of art into something like his cardinal “medium.”

Tracing Duchamp’s perennial relationship to photography, reproduction, the museum, and the archive, and spanning the period between 1913 and 1969, three chapters closely examine a number of undeniably material things: chapter one considers the artist’s boxes of photographically replicated notes, the Box of 1914 (1913-14) and Boîte verte (1934); chapter two examines documentation of ephemeral exhibitions, recording Duchamp’s curatorial interventions as well as suitcases filled with miniature reproductions, the Boîte-en-valise (1938-42); and chapter three is dedicated to a permanent installation, Etant donnés 1. la chute d’eau, 2. le gaz d’éclairage (1946-66). However, the premise of this dissertation is that all of these gain a new significance if studied in relation to the elusive activities that actually constituted them as artworks. Together, they formed a counter-conception of the role of the artist, articulating—and complicating—the conceptual stakes of much of what is known of his practice and thickening into what Walter Benjamin called the artist’s “theory of the work of art.”” (Abstract)

Ph.D. Dissertation
Advisor: Hal Foster
Publisher Art and Archaeology Department, Princeton University, 2013
507 pages


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2 Responses to “Elena Filipovic: The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (2013)”

  1. burt smiley on April 8, 2016 10:51 pm

    One of our area’s finest artists, John D. Morgan, has this past year had a Marchel DuChamp homage exibitions that may be of interest to you and Princeton.
    Called “Mirroring Marcel,” it consists of fifty boxes of mixed media–collage, Xerox, colored pencil and assemblage encaustic (cold wax)–of Duchamp, that is a visual treat which I am sure would excite anew fans of the master of intellectual art in the last century.

    Contact information for Mr. Morgan:

    John D. Morgan
    Assistant Professor of Studio Art
    Sweet Briar College
    764 Elijah Road
    Sweet Briar, VA 24595
    (434) 381-6280

    Thank you, Burt Smiley
    Friend, fan & neighbor of the artist!

  2. Marcelo on April 18, 2016 8:22 pm

    All about Marcel Duchamp in Buenos Aires, Argentina



    Marcelo GUTMAN

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