For the past month, Interstate Gallery in Bushwick has acted as the first physical base for Richard, a predominantly Internet-focused catalog of objects and items centered around new possibilities and interpretations of the readymade art object in the 21st century. Turning the work of Marcel Duchamp once more towards a populist, group project, Richard challenges the concepts of labor and potentials for the the readymade in new perspectives of art practice and conceptual operation.
Acting as a collectively maintained database, the Richard website encourages artists to submit their personal readymades, stripping it of any personal identifiers, and turning it loose for discussion, critique, and interpretation. The specifics are simple, and the qualifications are loose, occasionally blurring the immaterial and the unlikely to welcome new uses for the art object, ones that often go beyond the idea of the artist as sole operator. “Richard’s priority is to suggest an alternative scenario, in which creative people anywhere start seeing reality iitself as a field of creative action, not just in the sense of lifting and adapting ideas from it (through appropriation etc.) but by living in an artful way, as the situationists would have it” Says Richard founder Marco Antonini.
It’s a perspective that’s gained increasing credence over the past several years, using Duchamp’s original acts of aesthetic subversion as a way to rethink production and the artistic field, and Richard’s first show offers ample possibilities. One early submission is a Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter Jet, with the submitted data instructing the viewer on how to possibly rent the plane for artistic exhibition. “I consider that a perfect entry,” Antonini says. “It exemplifies many of the more immaterial assets of something like Richard, plus the entry is an “unassisted” readymade, but also open to be adapted and conveyed (as a pure idea) by a photograph, a model, a video of the plane, anything, basically. It brings on quite an expansive notion of readymade.”
Others utilize more surreal, quirky turns on the quotidian, embracing Duchamp’s later readymade sculptures. In one, a sex toy is crammed into a loaf of bread, and in another, a set of combs is joined to create a translucent, colorful square. It’s all utilized in an intriguing manner, bringing so many items from modernity into the gallery space that the meanings of each are sometimes easily muddled, or left completely interchangeable. Throughout, the playful nature of the disembodied collective is always felt, and the open realm of interpretation makes for a fascinating conceptual workout, showing just how much territory is open to the original act of aesthetic democracy.
Richard’s first show is on view until Sunday, December 15th.