Duchamp’s Games

This collection of exhibits includes two group exhibitions and three solo exhibitions, all of which refer to Marcel Duchamp’s ideas and works. The main exhibition, titled “C.O.L.D.A.S.S.” and curated by Raya Zommer-Tal, marks the centennial of Duchamp’s famous 1919 work in which he took a cheap reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and penciled in a goatee and moustache. At the bottom he added the letters L.H.O.O.Q. When these letters are read aloud quickly in French, they sound like “Elle a chaud au cul” – “She has a hot ass.” For this exhibition, eighteen Israeli artists were invited to respond to Duchamp’s artistic statement and at the same time consider the topic of gender fluidity: a woman with male characteristics (sexual organ or facial hair) versus a man with female characteristics. Noy Shahar focuses on the stereotypical perception of masculinity and depicts a variety of masculine behaviors performed by women. At the center of the work by Orna Versano Malki is a sculpture/ceiling fan in the form of the Vitruvian Man by da Vinci. The artist depicts the two superimposed figures as a combination of a man and a woman. Gender fluidity and longing join together in the work of Yossi Waxman. He displays photographs of himself disguised as a mustached woman next to an original postcard depicting the first transgender artist. Some of the works remain faithful to the original artistic work, whether with or without a beard and moustache. Lena Zaidel focuses on the image of Conchita the Drag Queen – the bearded woman. Similarly, Dina Blich photographs an old man wearing a dress. Ala Haytham embroiders a miniature pin modeled on Duchamp’s Mona Lisa. Through this traditional form of women’s handiwork, she also engages in dialogue with her identity as an Arab artist. Ronny Someck wrote a poem on the back of a photograph of Duchamp’s Mona Lisa in tribute of Duchamp’s work. The video work by Chana Anushik Manhaimer and Avner Pinchover features a clearly male figure attempting to sing in a female voice. The Tav Group pokes fun at the curator who authored this text by adding a mustache and goatee to her photograph. The Flying Mona by Pavel Zehnbacht and Igor Kaplunovich depicts the image of Mona Lisa in the form of a ball flying over an air-emitting facility shaped like a male sex organ. Humor and interactivity are also preserved in the collaborative work of Dina Blich and Elena Kotliarker. The work takes the form of a game table and visitors are invited to assemble the pieces and simultaneously construct and confuse the genders. Several of the works focus on moustaches only. Sergey Sichenko creates fictitious products: a colorful moustache box and an advertisement for shaving cream decorated by a picture of Duchamp’s Mona Lisa. The assemblage of objects exhibited by Arie Berkovitz resembles a mustached human creature and contains silent criticism of the custom among ultra-Orthodox women to wear wigs. Micha Laury uses neon to create a work focusing only on Duchamp’s additions to the Mona Lisa: beard, moustache and letters. The additions appear to be masculine, but another look reveals their feminine aspect in the form of female body parts. A few of the works focus on the five letters – L.H.O.O.Q. – that are the title of Duchamp’s work. Chanchal Banga depicts a brush decorated with segments from the work: letters affixed to a drawing of buttocks, hinting at gender fluidity. The photograph by Etamar Beglikter features wet male underpants with the title “His ass is wet.”


The second group exhibition, titled “In Motion” and curated by Rina Genussov, features seven sculptures that move through the exhibition space as a consequence of the spectators’ actions. In a substantial portion of his work, Duchamp examined the aesthetics of the readymade and investigated the effects of motion, using these to express issues relating to modern humanity and its relations with the industrialized world. The two humoristic works by Daniel Levy are made up of objects from the home environment. Uri Levinson‘s work features a cabinet filled with lockers containing objects taken from the artist’s surroundings and his imaginative inner world. Igor Kaplunovich exhibits a turbine made up of dozens of disposable plastic knives that are set in motion by the spectator’s presence. Adar Goldfarb creates an absurd connection between a fitness massager and a set of drums, seeking to reach a balance between regularity and randomicity,  and Pavel Zehnbacht produced a surrealistic wheel from the legs of female dolls, which moves back and forth through the exhibition space and invades the adjoining space.

The installation titled “Where Do We Come From, Where Are We Going To?” created by artist Sophie Cohen Scali and curated by Shuli Briskin is an allegory representing the cycles of life that emerge and recur at different paces. The work stimulates thoughts regarding the eternal philosophical question: Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

Chana Anushik Manhaimer‘s installation, “Mrs. Ballpit’s Stage Widgets”, curated by Avital Katz, is on display in the new museum library. The installation considers existential and social reality as well as questions of gender and the components of identity in the era of transhumanism. The three sculptured objects on display serve as tangible testimony to what is being displayed on the computer screen. They are placed in hanging positions to represent mutations of the changing human body.

Aviad Sajevitch‘s “Celebrity Salon” exhibition, curated by Nitsan Shuval-Abiri, features a series of portraits of famous people placed by the artist in familiar scenes from the history of art. After researching these people and learning about their individual attributes, the artist imbeds hints and symbols in his work that typify these individuals based on their personal stories or their public perceptions. As did Duchamp, Sajevitch also incorporates and ridicules famous works of art.