Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wooden Stuff by Mangle at Magnan Metz Gallery

So why, in the early 20th century, did Marcel Duchamp turn a men's urinal over, sign it and then call it art?

I think Duchamp was more interested in focusing on how people go about interpreting art than he was in actually trying to convey ideas or experiences.  He was asking people to think about how they think about art.  When you look at a piece, what are the cognitive and emotional processes involved?  Why do you look at art?  What do you want to get from this process?  How do you hope to change by looking at art? What do you expect art and artists to do for you?

By taking a functional object and turning it upside down he was also, basically, saying: there is stuff we can use and then there is stuff we can't use, and the stuff we can't use is or can be 'art.'  It is there for us to think about or derive meaning from.  I think Duchamp showed that if you are really a thoughtful and insightful person, you can even derive meaning from an overturned urinal.

At Magnan Metz Gallery there is a group of artists from Colombia doing work in this vein.  Apparently the artists call themselves and, among other things, take household items and make exact duplicates of them in wood.  For instance, here is an electrical cord made of wood:

So what is your interpretation of this electrical extension cord?  By rendering the cord useless, the artist goads you into thinking about what it could mean symbolically.

I especially liked these elegantly twisted hammers.

To me, the twisted hammers indicate the end of a grim and ridiculous process in which the tools themselves were not even adequate for the job.  This represents the point where the person just says, "Enough already!  I'm finished!" Then he/she twists the hammers around each other in a last act of frustration.

The gallery's website:

Photos of the wooden cord and the twisted hammer were taken by Dominique J.

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