exhibition, Paris, photography

Some Dust in my Mind

1 Man Ray - Marcel Duchamp,

Man Ray / Marcel Duchamp, Élevage de poussière [Dust Breeding], 1920 (1964), 24×30.5cm

There are two ways to visit the exhibition A Handful of Dust at Le Bal in Paris (until January 31, 2016). The most serious option entails having read beforehand the lengthy essay (70 pages) by the curator, David Campany (or bringing it along in the exhibition, as it seems designed for such an use, printed on a leaflet which is detachable from the almost exclusively iconographic catalogue), and then observing each photograph in display with Campany’s argumentation in mind. His essay is substantial, scholarly, smart and rather well written; after reading it, you’ll be almost completely convinced that this photograph, the famous Élevage de poussière [Dust Breeding] (by then, you’ll know everything about it: about all the prints, all the publications, all the disputes in attributing its authorship to Man Ray or Duchamp), is not only the cornerstone of the whole exhibition, but also of the whole history of photography, and even of history of art as a whole, all the way down to Hemingway and Cage, positively. And so you will not wonder why this or that image is featured in the exhibition and how it is linked with the Man Ray / Duchamp one, for you will know the answers: everything is explained, analyzed, elucidated, demonstrated in this catalogue. You will come out feeling a bit groggy, a bit flabbergasted, not necessarily convinced by (sometimes blatantly) far-fetching assertions, maybe not much more intelligent, but certainly more knowledgeable. Continue reading

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