Duchamp (retard en vídeo)

Eugeni Bonet

Documentary that recalls the figure of Marcel Duchamp through the dialogue of a couple who introduce, discuss and emulate some of his works. Through eight chapters, Eugeni Bonet constructs a hagiography that reviews the works, mysteries and contradictions of this great "lazy anartist".

"Taste is the aesthetics of the moment" (Marcel Duchamp)

As Duchamp himself affirmed, there is no work of creation but of unveiling, the objects relate freely and it is only the artist who certifies their existence as an artistic object. This apparent documentary (broadcast by TV3 in 1987, as part of the programme Arsenal, at prime time and even with a commercial break) was conceived as a pilot for a new audiovisual didactic approach to contemporary art. But, rather than being a documentary maker, Eugeni Bonet acts as a provocateur of reflections or speculations free of mystifications and theatrical staging. Disrupting the conventions of the didactic documentary as an objective narrative, the plot is constructed through links between the readings and comments in dialogue between a mentor and his disciple (rejuvenating the relationship between argument and document), the documentary testimonies (interviews with the painters Peter Ek and Joan Josep Tharrats; the writers Lluís Romero and Henri-François Rey; Mr. Emili Puignau, from Cadaqués, and the philosopher Eugenio Trias) and the objects presented (Duchamp's box-suitcase and some replicas of emblematic works), even reworking the processes of some of Duchamp's pieces. As Eugeni Bonet comments: "Documentary and archive images, and remnants of interviews with various people who have dealt with (or about) Duchamp in Catalonia, interrupt, illustrate and complement the dialogue".

Forcing the referential illusion of the didactic documentary, Eugeni Bonet transfers its mechanisms to an everyday poetics. The video and its circumstances are used as allegorical places for a personal exploration of the most important periods in Duchamp's life and work. The video is structured in eight chronologically ordered chapters. The first, "Painter", introduces the artist from his first pictorial works: coming from a family of artists, he feels painting as a limited space, expressing his dislike for the stench of turpentine and academicism. He thus renounced retinal painting and developed the idea of the Grand Verre: a dry art, a precision painting. In the chapter "Grand Verre", the protagonist couple studies this ultra-rapid exhibition work where image and word are assembled by means of an instruction manual. In "Chance", teacher and pupil practice the rules of chance (precise though inexact) that inspire Grand Verre, and their reflections are suspended by a "Musical Erratum" performed with Carles Santos. The fourth chapter refers to the "Readymades" and the eradication of taste, and so we are told that "there are pure readymades and there are readymades that are helped, rectified, imitated, printed, unhappy? unhappy? There are also latent readymades and semi-readymades". Duchamp's optical experiments, curious perspectives, anamorphoses, anaemic cinema and rotor-reliefs are dealt with in "Opticeries" and are extended in the chapter "Game/s", which refers as much to games of identity (the transformism of Rrose Sélavy) as to games of skill and luck (chess, roulette), and even to games of words and with grey matter. The last two chapters, "Dadaqués" and "Étant Donnés", delve into Duchamp's last years and his stays in Cadaqués. In this way, the video is like an essay that gives an account of the artist's biography and work from Eugeni Bonet's own impressions and intuitions (with a certain amount of sarcasm at times). A reinterpretation of the figure of Duchamp through data, processes, relationships and theories fixed in an audiovisual medium.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Duchamp (retard en vídeo)
  • Direction: Eugeni Bonet
  • Production: Eugeni Bonet. 1986.
  • Duration: 01:01:00
  • Languages: Catalan
  • Original format: Quicktime
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: NTSC - PAL
  • License: Copyright