Wednesday, October 22, 2003
thanks for the engagement with this topic & your responses.
Elizabeth ~ it is interesting what you say but i think that MD intended to manipulate as much as he could the perspective of the audience with this piece in particular. interpretation is not perspective, of course, but a narrowed perspective increases the chance of similar responses. most everyone i've talked to about *Given* has interpreted a violent vibe, although there is no obvious 'retinal' violence. it is largely MD's manipulation of perspective, which is quite contrary to his previous work, that points toward a certain intention, an inference of violation. though you're right, it's really keen how each person is forced to consider what s/he sees before communicating and/or immediately compromising their interpretation. what's maybe more interesting, certainly more creepy & hysterical, is how the act of peeping through those holes, makes us acutely aware of our own violation. we are being made predators at precisely the same time we find ourselves judged (by ourselves) for our unwitting action.
Tom ~ well, the statement that nothing is obvious about *Given* is both true and wide. it is pretty well known, anyway, that the model was sculptor Maria Martins, who, so far as i can tell, was a woman. she was likely not only the model but an inspiration for the piece as MD inscribed the first known sketch to her, “Etant donnes: Maria, la chute d'eau et la gaz d'elclairage.” that MD was consciously addressing a castrated or otherwise transformed male figure is unlikely for several reasons but mostly because his statements, behavior & works pointed emphatically away from contemplation of internal or 'spiritual' transformation into the/a feminine (whatever that represented for him) and toward the defacement/mutilation of the figure, if you've been following me. though both of which, by extension & psycho/philosophical play, might be attempts at the same ultimate goal.
MD was consistently intensely interested in the 'bride' [&] as object-to-possess. in the *White Box* his one note read (also relating to my comment above):
“When undergoing the interrogation by shop windows, you also pronounce your own judgment Condemnation. In fact, the choice is a round trip. From the demands of shop windows, from the inevitable response to shop windows, the conclusion is the making of a choice. No obstinacy, ad absurdum, : in hiding this coition through a sheet of glass with one or more of the objects in the shop window .The penalty consists in cutting the glass and in kicking yourself as soon as possession is consummated.”
let me mention here his window display for Breton's 1945 *Se Surrelisme et la Peinture* addressed the same theme(s) as *Given.*
anyway, i don’t care so much anymore whether Duchamp was a misogynist or not. i am more interested in what he was doing with *Given, * which has to do with the compulsion to dis/empower the object of desire.
**JES ~ i really want to respond to your post at greater length later because i think you hit on a couple interesting & important points in this discussion...