Dallas Center for Contemporary Art
I collect, therefore I am:
--- By selecting, gathering together, and setting aside groups of objects,
we make the world meaningful and define our own relationship to it.
Dr. Marjorie Swann
Curiosities and Texts
conditions of a language:
The search for "prime
by themselves and
Marcel Duchamp 1916, Green Box
For this project I was asked to choose a piece from the Dallas Museum of Art's collection
to show at the Contemporary in relationship to something I could make.
I chose Marcel Duchamp's "Green Box" with his collection of notes on the "Large Glass".
At first the museum guards were trying to keep the people back away from the stack of jars
assembled in the gallery. The jars seemed fragile. As the artist I had the prerogative
to encourage the people gathered around to examine it more closely.
So I peeled back a layer and exposed her subtle breasts. Later when I looked
and saw so many people crowded up to it and passing the small black light over the surface,
I had no concern for the safety of "Atelopus". As a piece of Art it was doing its job
and happily living its life. The effect of the small UV light was less than I wanted but plenty enough
to keep the people close, as in nose-to-jar close. There was a continual hum of people around
and with the piece. A chorus of "extinct frogs" sang out through the voices of those collected by "Atelopus".
My only regrets were the empty plastic wine cups that accumulated on her belly.
"Collecting things is a universal human trait.
Natural history specimens were some of the first objects to be collected in museums.
As the art of magic grew into the practice of science in the western world,
odd collections of miscellaneous objects, gradually became the ordered systematic
resources that now play an integral role in our interpretation of natural phenomenon.
The value of systematic collections as scientific resources will continue to increase.
Collection growth will slow owing to worldwide environmental changes and as
human populations expand into previously undeveloped areas. Areas where specimens
are collected will become fewer and fewer as natural areas of the earth are degraded by the activities of humans.
The role of well-managed systematic collections in better understanding the natural world
will certainly continue to expand."
John Simmons, Herpetological Collecting and Collections Management 1992
Sounds leaving from
different places and
a sculpture which lasts.
Marcel Duchamp 1916
"I feel emotionally attached to those jars -- sort of like I haven't completely "let go" of them.
They are similar to a bright but troubled student that you have confidence in
but nobody else has faith in them. Those jars and I have a long convoluted history;
I have struggled for years "with them" (filling up precious collection space), and fought "for them"
(when everybody wanted to throw them out because they were worthless). But now with time,
encouragement, a push in the right direction, and tutelage under the "right" person
-- that student goes farther than anything that I could have hoped or imagined."
American Museum of Natural History
the source of the jars used in "Atelopus."
There is a photograph of Marcel Duchamp taken at the
American Museum of Natural History in front of the Tyrannosaurus Rex
I need to find.
In the rainforest, like spit on a griddle the frog is gone. Maybe swallowed by the snake,
it is just swallowed up by the forest, feeding the system we know simply as mother nature.
I do not want these frogs in this piece lost in that scenario. I hope this piece slaps
a few people up the side of their heads. These aren't cute little red eyes. These are casts
that can be completely invisible in a clear liquid till exposed to UV light,
when they glow separate than the clear liquid around them. Or others that are slightly milky
early in the morning but by noon have become opaque and, were the lights dimmed,
you could see them glow. After the museum closes they will glow throughout the night.
When I get up in the wee hours of the morning usually around 4:30 and let the cat out
I always take the route back through the dining room-studio and see all the glowing frogs
that will populate future pieces. I want a lot from this.
Parts to look at
a piece of silvered
glass, in which are
reflected the objects in the
Marcel Duchamp 1917
Duchamp said: 3 "is kind of a magic number, but not in the ordinary sense. Number 1
is unity, number 2 is the couple, and 3 is the crowd. In other words, 20 million or 3
is the same for me"
Marcel Duchamp, Artist of the Century, By Kuensli and Naumann
The Atelopus group of frogs were first described and published in the
1841 Erpetologie Generale forty-four years before Marcel Duchamp was born.
In just the past ten years the majority of the highland species of
Atelopus have become extinct.
He (Duchamp) is toying around with the implications of non-Euclidean geometry
and it leads him into a postmodern multi-plicity of meanings and dimensions.
I remember reading somewhere that he worked for over twenty years on Etant donnes.
He kept it a secret and intended it to be viewed after his death. "GIVEN" the context
of Duchamp's work, the female body refers to another male body: Duchamp's. He has
included his own corpse in the piece by reference. He spent those twenty years preparing
for the work that incorporated his dead body. Ha! How's that for multiple dimensions?
Not just four (dimensions). He wouldn't stop there. If we have three, we have infinity.
Collections vary from precise and orderly to flotsam and jetsam.
The most pristinely maintained are often natural history collections where a specimen
may be the only remaining example of the now extinct individual. Our ability to understand
and interpret our world relies on the well being of these collections. As with art,
interpretation is the source of collections' importance.
For more information on
this collection of jars
a limited edition for sale
please look here
Jars of Frogs
The links below lead through a small portion of
the evolution of
223 North Shore