“…an innately intriguing experience.”
—Brian Boucher, artnet
“In the post-Duchamp, post-truth age, [a great story] may be the only aim to which art can aspire.”
—Marc Mewshaw, The New York Times
For the last twenty years of his life, Marcel Duchamp worked in absolute secrecy on his final masterpiece. After his death on October 2nd, 1968, his close friends and the world were stunned to find, hidden in his studio at 80 East 11th Street Suite #403, the completed Étant donnés, an elaborately detailed and beautifully disturbing room-encompassing tableau, which could be peered upon through two peepholes in a wooden door, enclosing the illuminated scene within.
Four years ago, Serkan Ozkaya imagined Étant donnés as a camera obscura. What if the peepholes weren’t only peepholes? (When has Duchamp’s work only ever been one thing?) What if the peepholes were also meant to project an image? Ozkaya built a scale model to see; to his surprise, the projected image resembled a face.
Ozkaya contacted the Philadelphia Museum of Art—where Étant donnés has been permanently installed since 1969—with his discovery. Several conversations with PMA’s curators resulted in a dead end. Ozkaya was not permitted to test his theory with the piece. Thus, he embarked upon making an exact recreation. Ozkaya further secured the studio in which the piece was originally completed. Following Duchamp’s exacting instructions, the idea could be tested in situ.
Featured in The New York Times, October 1st, Marc Mewshaw writes: “A previously unknown self-portrait lurking unnoticed for five decades within a supremely enigmatic work? To devotees of Duchamp, among the 20th century’s most influential artists, it’s a Dead Sea Scrolls moment.”
Now, Postmasters is thrilled to present Ozkaya’s recreation, entitled We Will Wait. The room-sized installation will be shown in a never-before-seen or accessible space. In the adjacent gallery, the objects, artifacts, and documents presented are a deconstruction of space and time, from the present day back to the 19th century. Elements include a 3D print of the female figure, extricated through meticulous research; historic and contemporary photos of Duchamp’s studio at 80 East 11th Street; and the Auer-Welsbach burner from the late 1800s.
Coinciding with the exhibition is the release of PUBLIC Issue #56, edited by Ozkaya and poet Robert Fitterman. Dedicated to Duchamp’s final piece and Ozkaya’s discovery, the issue is titled PUBLIC ATTENDANT A-Z.
Special thanks to Womp Studio in Brooklyn for their assistance with 3D printing.