The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery’s annual HERE&NOW exhibition gives an emerging curator a chance to showcase the work of contemporary artists practising in Western Australia. Curated by Anna Louise Richardson, ‘HERE&NOW 18: Besides, it is always the others who die’ presents newly-created works by Dr Perdita Phillips, Dr Alex Spremberg, Carly Lynch, Peter & Molly, Julie Dowling, and Bjoern Rainer-Adamson that respond to the challenge of contemporary art set by Marcel Duchamp 100 years ago.

‘All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.’ – Marcel Duchamp

The year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Duchamp’s death, as well as fifty years since the ‘Marcel Duchamp: The Mary Sisler Collection’ exhibition toured to the Art Gallery of Western Australia. ‘HERE&NOW18’ showcases a private collection of archival catalogues, prints and ephemera from Marcel Duchamp and items from the State Records Office of Western Australia, including a film made by Duchamp in 1926 called Anemic Cinema, alongside newly-commissioned artworks by the six artists.

Traversing themes of duality, process and disruption, the presentation offers fresh interpretations, affiliations and oppositions between the quixotic works of Duchamp and those of Western Australian artists in 2018. ‘It is also about my relationship to these artists and my interrogation of Duchamp, the artist, the provocateur, the disruptor, the player of games’ reflects Richardson. ‘Duchamp is process, he is non-retinal, he is frustrating, he is wilfully confusing, he is disruptive. He was in all probability, rampantly sexist. There are many reasons to dislike Duchamp, the man and/or the myth. Yet, he is duality. He holds our attention, he is clever, he anticipates your dislike but doesn’t care. He quits art to play chess for twenty years. He is everywhere.’

Over 100 years ago Duchamp signed a urinal with a pseudonym, R. Mutt, declared it a work of art and created a controversy that altered the course of art. Featuring video performance, installation, painting and mechanical assemblage, the works in ‘HERE&NOW18’ are responsive; not referential, paying homage to the French artist’s iconoclastic technical, social, and cultural legacy. Peter & Molly’s confessional booth assemblage of a retro loo waiting for its sinful sitter engages with the absurd on a very Duchampian level, while Julie Dowling’s double self-portrait plays on Duchamp’s alter-ego Rrose Sélavy. Duchamp’s incomplete work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Bride) (1915-1923) is echoed in an installation by Carly Lynch, who excavates and deconstructs dusty remnants of archives to create poetic – albeit dysfunctional – narratives. Perdita Phillips’ mixed media installation records her footprint in the environment, seeking answers and eroding the system – accompanied by a large drawing mapping the artist’s thoughts from the name ‘Marcel Duchamp’ outwards across the paper. A wall of painted, spinning 12-inch records by Alex Spremberg creates optical illusions that push two dimensionality into three – Duchamp’s ‘non-retinal’ expressed in destabilising perceptual manoeuvres – While German-born Bjoern Rainer-Adamson crafts the detritus of mass-production into highly-polished, functioning objects that cleverly reconfigure the machinations of all manner of devices. Together, the six artists poke at the boundaries around our conception of ‘art’ just as Duchamp did in 1913 when he placed a bicycle wheel on a stool.

Aside from his parting artwork Étant donnés (1946-1966) – which was instructioned to be displayed post-mortem – Duchamp left us with his epitaph: ‘Besides, it is always the others who die’.

HERE&NOW18: Besides, it is always the others who die
1 September – 8 December 2018
Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Crawley, WA


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