PAPER & New Adelphi Gallery, University of Salford
In collaboration with Durden & Ray, Los Angeles
Lisa Denyer / Frances Disley / EC / Brendan Fletcher / Roni Feldman / Jenny Hager / Sharon Hall / Vincent Hawkins / David Leapman / Mali Morris / Max Presneill
In collaboration with LA-based Durden & Ray and as part of the Manifest festival, PAPER presents The Surface of Things, an exhibition exploring contemporary Abstract painting at University of Salford’s New Adelphi Gallery.
Founded in 2009, Durden and Ray is comprised of 24 artist/curators who work together to create exhibition opportunities at their downtown Los Angeles gallery as well as in concert with artist groups and gallery spaces around the world. Durden and Ray concentrates on small, tightly curated group shows at the gallery, organized by the members, and hosts international artists as part of a commitment to global exchange and alternative networks. The Durden and Ray model expressly overlaps multiple strategies, including the commercial potential and visual identity of a gallery, the democratic structure of an artist group, the potential to create collaborative works of art in the manner of a collective, and the shared fiscal support of its programmes by group members and project partners similar to a non-profit organization. Durden and Ray is committed both to individual praxis and to shared aims of curatorial experimentation, visual research, and artistic exchange with international partners.
Not so long ago the world was a bigger place. Communication was a slower affair. Postcards and letters were expected; public telephone boxes occasioned long-distance conversations with far away loved-ones.
Sometimes there is an imperative to clear away the clutter of these former times. The old desk for instance, parked unhelpfully in the hallway near the front door, had been there too long. I decided to sort it. It was heaped with coats, a couple of shoes, a woollen hat and a sliding pile of junk mail. There were five drawers. In them I found a little lead elephant, an empty spectacles case, various lists on scraps of paper, a folded receipt, a faded party invitation, a confetti of hole-punch paper, a pair of suitcase padlocks still in their plastic package, six unflattering passport photographs, seven sleeves of self adhesive labels, an old identity card, a blank diary, some out-of-date magazines, an unpaid electricity bill, a handful of francs, one paper clip, fourteen elastic bands, a plastic snowman, a fat felt-pen, several broken pencils, a tiny light bulb in its box, a biscuit tin full of candles and two picture postcards.
In the middle drawer – the one that always got stuck – was a broken bicycle pump and an oversized envelope, full and smooth, licked shut. I made an irreversible mistake. I decided to open it. Inside was a collection of unread letters on thin, foreign paper. They were all of the same hand, and all written to me.
– Roy Voss, 2016
Tabatha Andrews/Wolfgang Berkowski/Keith Bowler/Louise Bristow/EC/Nooshin Farhid/Peter Fillingham/Susan Hiller/Simon Patterson/James Rogers/Peter Suchin/Suzanne Treister/Julian Wakelin/Sarah Woodfine
Curated by Keith Bowler and Peter Suchin
Fourteen Turns: Meditations on a Coffee Mill presents work by fourteen artists who have been asked to respond to a modest painting by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the Coffee Mill of 1911 (oil and pencil on board, 33 x 12.7cm, Tate Gallery, London, also known as the Coffee Grinder). To this end the artists were supplied with a wooden support of exactly these dimensions and asked to use this, as well as aspects of the now extensive literature on Duchamp, as starting points for their contribution to the show.
The Coffee Mill was itself the result of an invitation by Duchamp’s brother Raymond Duchamp-Villon to donate, as a rather unorthodox wedding gift, a painting made to be mounted on a cupboard door located above the kitchen sink at his home in Paris. Despite its seemingly trivial subject matter Duchamp later attributed to the Coffee Mill considerable significance. In the collection of interviews given to Pierre Cabanne in the late 1960s he observed that he had, with the Coffee Mill, “opened a window onto something else” (Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp, Thames and Hudson, 1971, p. 31).
Conventionally seen as an ambitious but recognisably Cubist composition, the Coffee Mill is enigmatically “assisted” by Duchamp’s mysterious remark, reframing it as one of the most important and far-reaching of his works. Cabanne also questions Duchamp about two of his most respected pieces, The Bride (1912), and The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (the Large Glass) (1915-23): “How do you explain your evolution towards the system of measurements in [these works]?”, asks Cabanne, to which Duchamp replies “I explain it with The Coffee Grinder” (p. 37).
Also in the 1960s, Duchamp was invited by the scholar and curator Ulf Linde (1929-2013) to collaborate with him on a reconstruction of the Large Glass. The completed copy was signed by both Duchamp and Linde, and its construction partly documented in the volume published on the occasion of a major Duchamp show curated by Linde at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, in 2011 (Jan Aman and Daniel Birnbaum (Eds.), De ou par Marcel Duchamp par Ulf Linde, Sternberg Press, 2013, English text). In the book, Linde presents the argument, supported by numerous drawings, diagrams and photographic overlays, that a hitherto unnoticed mathematical ratio of 22.5 had been used by Duchamp when composing the Coffee Mill, and that this relationship featured not only in The Bride and the Large Glass, but also as a determining aspect of the piece Duchamp worked on in secret between 1946 and 1966, and which now resides in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas. Duchamp’s commitment to this sub rosa proportion of 22.5, alongside the also recurring numbers 1, 7 and 8, is rarely examined in the art historical literature, despite the artist telling Cabanne of the direct connection between the Coffee Mill and certain seminal works.
In the exhibition’s initial cast as Seven Turns: Meditations on a Coffee Mill (& Model, Leeds, February – March, 2016), the selection of seven artists was, following Duchamp’s infamous bachelor thematic, entirely male. Fourteen Turns enacts a different Duchampian trope, one in which male and female protagonists are deliberately, if unconditionally, juxtaposed. The original seven artists are included in the present show.
Fourteen Turns: Meditations on a Coffee Mill aims to “crack”, translate and playfully reconfigure Marcel Duchamp’s intriguing picture-puzzle of a tiny domestic machine in motion.