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Tognazzini And The New Duchamp

Updated on January 9, 2012

    Even before I stumbled across the work and biography of Marcel Duchamp, I had my inklings of ideas about what the author is doing with this story. Like the first story in Tognazzini’s I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket For Occasions Such As These , a wonderful piece called “Primer,” this story takes art in a very surreal, even dadaist direction, showing us the art, the poetry in what might otherwise be seen as ordinary, or even insane. Like Marcel Duchamp, the “New Duchamp” creates art in bizarre and unexpected ways, creating pieces like “Food Descending A Staircase”, which I think is, in a lot of ways, a light cast on the way art is created, the process that the artist goes through, and the very foundation of surrealism– we take the pots, the pans and the noodles of everyday life, blow it up to “monstrous” proportions (by highlighting it in fiction) and then put it into action by rushing it to the stairwell and throwing it over the balcony.

I think the theme here is that all great art, all truly fresh art is like Duchamp’s art. It’s unique, it creates a wholly new form of beauty by putting the ordinary into action in unexpected ways (the cheese coat, the spaghetti, the lying in the bathtub crying “we’re here! We’re here!”) This is the art of today, it is the ordinary made extraordinary in ways that shake up the stagnant mind and bring the fantastic to reality. But there’s something more, something deeper here that I can’t quite put my finger on, something more than the fact that I think Tognazzini is painting himself here in the form of the New Duchamp, the artist of the avant-garde who, by natural progression, makes it his purpose to outdo and build upon those that have come before. These examples, the “art” that the New Duchamp creates is bizarre, but fresh and alive. It’s temporary– exceedingly so, but I think Tognazzini uses that very purposefully to create a sense of beauty in the ephemeral, and to show us not to take anything in art or the creation of it too seriously.


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