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After Marcel Duchamp’s death in 1968, the strangest installation was discovered in his studio on East 11th Street in Manhattan: a quixotic diorama featuring a nude, splayed female figure in a pastoral setting reclining so far that her head disappeared while one hand held up a lantern, the entire scene only visible through tiny holes in an ancient-looking wooden door. “Étants Donnés” (1946–66) was the final and most beguiling puzzle created by an artist who reveled in subterfuge and sleight of hand. For the past four years, the Turkish-American artist Serkan Özkaya has been working at creating a full-scale replica of “Étants Donnés” in order to test his answer to its riddle: that the installation is in fact an elaborate camera obscura.
Earlier this year, Özkaya rebuilt Duchamp’s installation in the studio space where the original — now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art — was created. The result was a ghostly image, projected through the twin pinholes in the installation’s wooden door, which from the right angle may have resembled a blurry, rosy portrait of Duchamp himself. That installation, and objects related to its making, are currently on view at Postmasters Gallery. But more than the final, fuzzy projection, Özkaya’s project speaks to an irrepressible human desire for mystery and narrative, which will likely be one of the subjects he discusses on Wednesday in a conversation at the gallery with the author Augustus Rose. His widely praised debut novel, The Readymade Thief, likewise involves the piecing together of apparent clues left behind by Duchamp.
When: Wednesday, December 13, 6:30–8pm
Where: Postmasters Gallery (54 Franklin Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)
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