Alain Huck’s exhibition is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Marcel Duchamp’s ironic “game” with the Forestay Waterfall, which the latter discovered by chance in 1946 during a stay at the Hotel Bellevue on the outskirts of Chexbres and which, in consequence, gave birth to the KMD – Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp | The Forestay Museum of Art.
Shown in the upper exhibition room of the KMD is a self-portrait of the artist on a transparent film sandwiched between two panes of glass, clearly a reference to Duchamp’s “repair” of his La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (1915–23)—aka “The Large Glass—which had suffered transport damage in 1926. Huck’s eyes are visible only through the holes of a wooden hay binding implement (clé à foin), an allusion to the peepholes in the door of Duchamp’s Étant donnés: 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage... (1946–66), a work whose formal starting point was the Forestay Waterfall. While the wooden door in Étant donnés may have belonged to a barn in which hay may have been stocked at some time or other, Huck’s “clé à foin” is indeed an implement intended for the gathering of hay. The difference, however, between Duchamp’s Étant donnés and Huck’s installation is that the voyeur is now no longer the viewer who “melds” with the artist but rather the viewer who is here transformed by the artist into the actual artwork, so to speak, and in return seeks the eyes of the artist behind the “clé à foin.”
In his second installation in the lower exhibition room of the KMD, Alain Huck has stuck onto the viewing window a sheet of pink greaseproof paper out of which he has cut capital letters spelling “HARD WATER FALL.” Looking through the openings formed by these cut-out letters we can see a jumble of weather-worn objects—spread out on the floor of the exhibition room—that Huck has fished out of the pool of the Forestay Waterfall: a piece of wood, a bed spring, a piece of garment trimming, objects carelessly discarded by the people of Chexbres when this idyllic location still served them officially as a waste dump. These found objects, covered with the calcified patina of time, might in a certain sense be interpreted as anachronistic echoes of Duchamp’s famous Readymades, while the pink greaseproof paper makes a direct reference to the enigmatically denuded woman in Étant donnés, as Duchamp had covered her body with precisely the same material in order to lend her “naked skin” an emphatically metaphorical appearance.
Alain Huck’s two-part exhibition at the KMD makes manifold reference to the famous and richly consequential world of the artist Marcel Duchamp while at the same time carrying these references ad absurdum. And once we—the viewers who have become the artwork—have realized this, we too will begin to put our tongues in our cheeks: “Foin, voilà un habit tout gâté. Foin du loup. Foin de lui ...”
Alain Huck, born in Vevey in 1957, lives and works in Lausanne. 1982–86: École des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne. 1987: founding member of the group and exhibition venue M/2 in Vevey together with Cathérine Monney, Jean Crotti, Robert Ireland, Jean-Luc Manz and Christian Messerli. 1989–90: artist in residence at the Istituto svizzero di Roma. 1997: artist in residence at the Atelier vaudois, cité internationale des arts, Paris. Awards and distinctions: 2013 Preis der ProLitteris, Zurich; Grand Prix de l’État de Vaud, Lausanne; 2005 Bourse des arts plastiques du Canton de Vaud, Lausanne; 2002 Prix Fondation Leenaards; 1997 Bourse fédérale des Beaux-Arts; 1992 Prix Fondation Irène Reymond; 1991 Bourse fédérale des Beaux-Arts; 1990 Prix Manor Vaud; 1989 Bourse fédérale des Beaux-Arts.
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