PRINT January 2010



Marcel Duchamp, Étant donnés: 1º la chute d’eau, 2º le gaz d’éclairage . . . (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas . . .), 1946–66, wooden door, bricks, velvet, wood, leather, metal armature, twigs, aluminum, iron, glass, Plexiglas, linoleum, cotton, electric lights, gas lamp, motor, 95 1⁄2 x 70 x 49". Exterior view. © 2010 Estate of Marcel Duchamp/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

SOONER OR LATER, anyone working in the sphere of contemporary art has the dawning awareness that someday all this will fall away: The projects and dialogues that are so familiar now, however resonant or even crucial in the present context, will inevitably sink into obscurity or become opaque, their salience lost, only to be reconstructed in approximations by scholars and other enthusiasts decades from now (and that’s the best-case scenario). Perhaps even more disquieting is the occasional sense that such opacity already exists everywhere around us, and that the stories of contemporary art, in fact, always stand at a kind of remove. Every public endeavor contains within it countless occluded histories rarely if ever divulged (lest their true significance evaporate when articulated in open air). For all we can come to know—creatively, critically, academically—there is

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