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“Eve Plays Duchamp” at the Brancolini Grimaldi gallery, London.
David Franchi – Saturday, 26th October 2013.
“Eve plays Duchamp” at the Brancolini Grimaldi gallery, London, is an interesting group exhibition. The Brancolini Grimaldi exhibition is organized on the work of three American feminist artists, Tricia Lawless Murray, Heidi Snow and Hannah Whitaker, who are inspired by neo- Surrealism.
The show is curated by Kevin Moore, an independent researcher and curator based in New York. He found the basis of “Eve plays Duchamp” on the first American exhibition dedicated to the French artist. In 1963, in fact, the Pasadena Museum of Art hosted the retrospective of Marcel Duchamp, and involved a young woman named Eve Babitz, who sat naked in the gallery for a chess match with the 76-year old Duchamp in front of one his most iconic works, “Large Glass” (1915 – 1925).
Historical Surrealism has been criticized for its sexist treatment of women. However, Eve Babitz sitting comfortably naked opposite Duchamp, one of the great masters of 20th-century art, challenges Surrealist ideas of patriarchal dominance and also corresponded to a forthcoming feminist- based art practices where women play to traditional roles implementing themes and strategies of an older generation of male artists reaching a unruly and provoking results.
Therefore the Brancolini Grimaldi exhibition brings together these three artists, by organising an exhibition where the topic is a bit difficult to find but it seems it is lying in the tension between rationality and sex – meant as not rational – as in the image of Eve Babitz and Duchamp.
Some of the works on display are quite interesting. Tricia Lawless Murray, for example, has a wooden box with perspective studies and
sample on horizon and a naked woman; a vitrine with chessboard with some unusual works; and images coming from sex encounters she really had in hotel with people that she finds on internet and then takes pictures.
Tricia Lawless Murray is a graduate of UC Berkeley in history of art and has received an MFA from California College of Arts. She is represented by Jancar Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.
Tricia Lawless Murray is an LA-based artist working in photography, video, collage, sculpture and installation. “Eve Plays Duchamp” features work from her recent series which reinterprets Marcel Duchamp’s last work Étant Donnés in which the viewer peers through peepholes in a wooden door. The difference here is that Lawless Murray allows viewers to breach the barrier that existed in Duchamp’s construction and enter the space of the diorama via her videos, collages and three-dimensional works. The works take their titles from songs rooted in American folk, blues, country and pop music as they relate to the seminal alternative country rock album, The Sweetheart of the Rodeo by The Byrds. These works represent the transition from the investigation of Duchamp’s work to that of Western Americana as Lawless Murray begins to make visual her rendition of the “Great American Novel”. Her agenda is to refashion works from the past to lend them a point of view that is contrarily ironic and romantic while maintaining the perspective of woman as visual provocateur as opposed to object of delectation.
Heidi Snow lives and works in New York. She received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. She explores obscure histories, deciphering in relics such as fanciful costumes and various forms of documentation, lost chapters in the history of fashion. Through sculptures, photographs and drawings, her work examines the ways in which women’s fashion in particular has contributed to the exaggeration, distortion, and fetishisation of the female body according to the cultural fantasies and perversions of a given historical moment.
Also based in New York, Hannah Whitaker holds a BA from Yale and an MFA from ICP/Bard. Recent projects include co-editing issue 45 of Blind Spot magazine and co-curating its accompanying show at Invisible Exports in New York. She is a contributing editor for Triple Canopy.
Whitaker’s photographs are the results of unwieldy experimental systems allowed to unfold. They start with organising principles ranging from visual patterning to repetitive motions, to mathematics. They present a kind of overt rationale represented visually by a grid or geometric pattern – which is then undermined by mistakes, randomness, imperfection and messiness. Recently Whitaker has made use of hand-made screens and other experimental in-camera techniques in order to layer different visual languages within a single image, placing the geometric alongside the photographic. The images depict a range of subjects, often with loaded histories – such as an ancient Greek marble quarry or a Hawaiian volcano – so that each image has a dual function as both two-dimensional image and gatekeeper of a larger narrative.
Kevin Moore is the author of Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980 (2010) and Jacques Henri Lartigue: The Invention of an Artist (2004), and a contributing author to Robert Heinecken (2012) and Words Without Pictures (2009).
“Eve plays Duchamp” in ongoing at the Brancolini Grimaldi gallery, Mayfair, London, until the 10th November 2013.