It does appear to be beyond nominal doubt that the team of Craig Braun and Tom Wilkes pilfered to a large degree the work of Lol Creme and Kevin Godley for the Alice Cooper album School’s Out. The former’s Hotlegs release in 1970 went nowhere and was possibly in the bargain bin when Cooper’s record was released. In any event, Hotlegs was a non-factor in the U.S. and no one had been exposed to the album art. So, they copied the sleeve, or as they say in the biz, “they waz deeply inspired.” But to mimic is one thing, and to understand is a different bird of prey. Kind of like copying software based on what you see on the screen without understanding all the codes underlying it.
aBut, more interesting than the front cover was the back of the album artwork. Although its ostensibly the interior of a school desk, it can also be interpreted to be a suitcase. Where did they draw the context for their own work? The first impression was the work of Boris Lurie, followed by Marcel Duchamp and his box in a suitcase, a kind of mobile museum which he curated.
Fighting a repression of the past, or at least sublimating disavowal in the face of perhaps something traumatic- thinking of Hooligan’s Crane here from GG/06- that is, cruelty and difference and also an attraction and wariness of robust consumerism, an ideology based on commercial acquisition and optimism, in this case maybe something bittersweet and the realization of an innocence that never really existed.
Like Lurie’s art, maybe a fear of being misunderstood and neglected, and as history would show with Godley and Creme, there was an integrity of purpose. This album art does speak of a certain negation. A comment on the dialectics of the authentic and the artist’s relation to the marketplace and the music business world that is complicit with it. The reduction of the artist’s work to product and commodity. The photos of women are what links it with Lurie; art cannot really advance until we confront and deal with the degrading and obvious denial of the feminine in our culture. The pop culture misogyny and its artifice and kitsch. There does exist a female side of divinity and Lurie saw it lurking in and under the banality of common denominator market exploitation: the pin-up. The feminine face of divinity hidden beneath the commercial exploitation ephemera of mass distribution, Walter Benjamin’s mechanical reproduction; the discard given revolutionary and emancipatory capabilities : the American pin-up , which Lurie interpreted by way of his own overwhelmingly painful history in a death camp.
Duchamp, by contrast, was a condition of exile. the baggage as body that cannot even contemplate a secure sense of self. A sense of dislocation. A ready-made of sorts that functioned like Duchamp as somewhat a critique of capitalism, or the tendency to accumulate, and positing something of an escapist mysticism or something almost like the American lost in Paris, the young Hemingway, the F. Scott Fitzgerald and the sheer non monetary spirit of the Soutine or Modigliani.
The Boite-en-valise, which is currently on display at WCMA, is a peculiar piece of art, in that while it is itself an art object, it is also an art gallery curated by Duchamp himself. The portable suitcase contains boxes that house 69 reproductions of the artist’s own work spanning from 1900-1913. “He spent 33 years reproducing works that took him 13 years to produce, making an album of his work like a miniature gallery installation,” Haxthausen said. As a professor of art history, Haxthausen focused on both Duchamp’s curatorial abilities and the strength of the work as its own s
lar piece of art. “Duchamp is the curator of his own production,” Haxthausen said. He also talked about the painstaking attention to detail that Duchamp gave to each monograph, using 19th century forms of reproduction and then having them hand-colored. “These panels represent a conversation Duchamp has set up between these works,” Haxthausen said in reference to the boxes within the suitcase….
…Epping spoke next and talked about Duchamp’s years as a professional chess player. “It was not the winning or losing that mattered but the possibility of the infinite,” Epping said. He also spoke about some of Duchamp’s original pieces, none of which are in existence any longer, that were recreated in Boite-en-valise, including the urinal that Duchamp signed and exhibited as art. “In choosing an article from the category of the multitude, the article becomes an original,” Epping said of Duchamp’s fixation on industrially produced items. Epping talked about the urinal’s journey from the hardware store to the gallery, saying, “The significance of that piece is in the moment of transition from where it had been to where it ended up. It was most authentic in its transformational stage.” Duchamp made a name for himself by questioning what it means to be art and to apply meaning to something, even something as banal as a urinal. “The art is in the idea that is applied to it,” Epping said.
The concept of meaning was really hit home by Gerrard, who spoke about art as an applied meaning to objects that would have otherwise been meaningless. “How can meaning be created of chrome and plaster and glass?” Gerrard asked of the urinal. This is the very question Duchamp asked himself in making such a commonplace object into a piece of art. Gerrard also talked about Duchamp’s chess-playing years by quoting a friend of Duchamp: “The great privilege of our game is that nothing is hidden … all one needs to do is be able to see.” Read More:http://thewilliamsrecord.com/2011/11/16/professors-dish-out-dialogue-on-duchamp/