The Weird and Haunting Final Duchamp Sculpture Is Seasonally Appropriate

I’m sharing this because it’s one of the few artworks I find actually scary. Incredible and fascinating, but also scary. It’s not a sudden, frightening type, but a deeper, more primal kind.

We look through a tiny hole and are confronted with a prone, naked body, only partially seen and still, in the sticks and brush. It might be catching an intimate moment, or it might be something grisly.

Marcel Duchamp spent more than 20 years working on Étant donnés in secret. His hidden dedication is one of the components of the work.

Something else—I’m ever so salty when I see a piece I like a lot and want to know more about its making, but I usually see simply “mixed media” in the medium area of the title card with no elaboration. What did you use? Gorilla bones? Model airplane parts? Camel spit?? It’s so often frustrating. Duchamp made sure we know damn well what went into his last creation:

Mixed media assemblage: (exterior) wooden door, iron nails, bricks, and stucco; (interior) bricks, velvet, wood, parchment over an armature of lead, steel, brass, synthetic putties and adhesives, aluminum sheet, welded steel-wire screen, and wood; Peg-Board, hair, oil paint, plastic, steel binder clips, plastic clothespins, twigs, leaves, glass, plywood, brass piano hinge, nails, screws, cotton, collotype prints, acrylic varnish, chalk, graphite, paper, cardboard, tape, pen ink, electric light fixtures, gas lamp (Bec Auer type), foam rubber, cork, electric motor, cookie tin, and linoleum

So Often We Want to Keep Special, Resonant Media to Ourselves, Even Though It Deserves a Wider Audience, and That’s So Unfortunate

Case in point, so many internet things that are amazing and have criminally few eyeballs and earholes attached to them. I understand the magic of discovering treasures that are meaningful to you. I’m sad that it’s such a widespread impulse to resist sharing those things with everyone else. It’s the Daffy Duck mentality, a throwback to post-infancy, when we desired everything for ourselves, before we learned empathy.

One of the reasons I’m continuing to work on this blog is to share those things, to resist the hoarding impulse. Because it’s in the sharing that we grow, it’s in the mutual delight of discovery that we support and enhance each other. This is a better way to live.

All that to say, watch the latest BJ Rubin show. It’s full of music that’s so far out on the fringe it’s fuzz floating away on the breeze. It’s weird, it’s unique, and the world needs so much more of that right now.


Internet has been patchy here the last couple days. I write posts, they haven’t always got up on time. But such is life: a little on, a little off. It moves on its own schedule, in its own time.

Easier to view our work as life itself, growing in its own time. But stagnating, shriveling, dying if it isn’t done day by day, a little at a time. Neglect to keep adding to practice and it goes nowhere.

It’s a weird, hidden world where all that grows into being, a counterintuitive Upside Down that mirrors our regular world, but is . . . just off ways both obvious and subtle. Pouring our hearts and souls into that world is our pleasure and our obligation.