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Duchamp, Boite-en-valise (the red box), series F

Video transcript

we're here at the Portland Art Museum in the juban Center for Modern and Contemporary Art in front of Marcel Duchamp's landmark blot on valleys the red box series F I hear the word Veliz I think of something you could carry around like a suitcase yeah like a suitcase I think my grandmother's used valise for suitcase exactly and we use backpack it's a new nomenclature Duchamp at the end of World War one had seen the destruction in Europe he was a painter he saw his brother injured in battle and died he came back to Paris and he said my work could be lost for the ages and he decided to reproduce everything and make his own history his own Museum in a suitcase he packaged himself absolutely you know in a new and and completely unbranded way he reproduced the nude descending a staircase all of his cubist and vaguely surrealist paintings on reproductions it's like a retrospective in a box absolutely you know and the interesting thing about this box is that he updates it twice so that the box here at the Portland Art Museum is a box that he created as an addition for Schwartz in Italy in 1960 how many are there 100 there are 100 boxes in the red version there's a green version a leather version and a tan version the earliest version is actually a valise rather Veliz because these are mechanically reproduced objects he had a little cottage industry he prints a bunch of them but they never get assembled and so when shorts comes to him in the 60s and says I want to do the blot the police as a real addition Duchamp says okay I happen to have a stack of them right here I never put them together and so his wife teenie sat in the Paris apartment gluing the reproductions - these black cardboard backgrounds and little labels they had made and they created this retrospective in a box and there's something to me that's sort of about the idea of the artist packaging himself selling himself almost like a traveling salesman go around to galleries and try to get their work there's something about that we have artists in the commercial environment to me well as the curator always immediately pull back when someone issues themselves as an artist because the modern artist carries carried slides and now they carry an iPhone with their entire work on it sort of like Duchamp but in the technology of today as opposed to the reproductive technology of his age what I find interesting and beautiful about this is the variety because he was both a painter and a sculptor in the sense that the ready-made was a sculpture we have a tiny version of a yeren ready-made absolutely the entire thing was already made he gave us his life's work to that day as a ready-made surrogate for the experience none of it's an original print in the sense of an artist pulled plate numbered inside but in fact these are all mechanically reproduced from images that may or may not have been an original work of art that are true in the first place right what's great to me about it is that there's this kind of embracing of mechanical reproduction which is sort of the whole you know a thread through all of the Sean's work right this in a sort of loss of the aura in venya means terms like the specialness of the original yes which was always a sort of issue yes I'm confronted you'll notice that this object is sitting not in 1929 when he first conceives it but it's sitting here in the juvett Center halfway up in 1960 1970 when America discovers the ideas of right in duchamp comes the grandfather of poverty and of Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince yeah and all of the artists who practice appropriation and simulacra that's right yep and Sherri Levine and all of that absolutely Sherri Levine could not exist without this little miniaturization of them too it's like little souvenirs oh you a little do shop souvenir yeah sure embrace like your little vial of the air of Paris right here have fun