Ursula von Rydingsvard + Marcel Duchamp

Amy Lehrburger
Nov 11, 2013 1:41AM

One of the many endlessly fascinating things about art is that it (most of the time) takes a shape, and that shape inevitably invites comparison. These comparisons can be productive - revealing influence, points of departure, reference. They can also be totally meaningless. In the case of these works by Marcel Duchamp and Ursula von Rydingsvard, I am fairly sure that it's the latter. Duchamp was exploding the phenomenon of mass production through his series of readymades, challenging the status of art objects and the experience of viewing them. Von Rydingsvard creates deeply expressive, almost narrative, sculptures that are very much about their own making, carving, casting. 

But: when I see Dwadziescia, I think of a urinal; and when I think of a urinal, I think of Fountain. And then I want to see Fountain, and when I see them next to each other, it scratches some conceptual itch, providing some sort of visual relief. It's the same reason why it's fun to look at Google's "visually similar" image results. I wondered what would happen if I asked Google for visually similar images to Fountain and Dwadziescia.

Google saw the picture of Fountain and knew that it was Fountain and then only gave me results for Fountain (which made my browser look somewhat crudely polka-dotted)It didn't know what to do with Dwadziescia, and so it spat back a bunch of flesh-colored, feminine, round things. I'm not sure what to make of this, but it reminded me that art happens in time, and while Duchamp has nothing to say about von Rydingsvard (his Fountain was here first, and asserts and reasserts itself endlessly), perhaps von Rydingsvard has something to say about Duchamp that she's expressed in a contrary, wrought, feminist way.

Amy Lehrburger