All of the artists have produced work that touches upon the readymade concept, and some of the work was made specifically for this exhibition. The aesthetic affiliation between the artists is both informal and wide-ranging. The exhibition is an exploration of the readymade idea as seen through minds of eleven of British Columbia’s most renowned artists. The commentary contained within the works in the show touches on assumptions regarding culture itself, mass media, marks as traces, sociological issues and how stereotypical reactions to accepting everyday objects as art continues to this day.
The participating artists are: Arabella Campbell, Douglas Coupland, Stan Douglas, Gathie Falk, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Brian Jungen, Damian Moppett, Mina Totino, Ian Wallace and David Weir.
Marcel Duchamp’s two early readymades, Bicycle Wheel and Fountain, are widely regarded as the two most important and influential works produced in twentieth-century art. They date from 1913 and 1917 respectively, so this exhibition broadly commemorates the 100th anniversary of the readymade. The status of Duchamp’s readymades can be attributed to many aspects of his realization that the act of choosing is as important as the act of making something – reflecting the fact that when we ‘make something’ we also ‘choose something’.
The last substantial readymades exhibition in Vancouver was ‘Duchamp Readymades’ at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1978. All the works in that exhibition were by Duchamp and were touring from the National Gallery of Canada’s collection.
Early on it was clear that readymades could be ‘aided’ or ‘assisted’. Found objects were assembled into ‘assemblages’. The richness of the readymades’ potential puts it into a playful but quasi-philosophical dialogue with previous art, and also with the global plethora of objects that may, or may not, find their way into a museum.
The exhibition was catalyzed when Gordon Smith saw the Duchamp exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in New York City in 2014. It was his wish that this group of artists have an opportunity to share with the public their ideas on what the readymade is today, and what it may become tomorrow.
Report courtesy Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art.