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Caroline de Menezes

Published date
23 May 2019

Curatorship and the mapping Of post-Duchampian art in Brazil in the late 20th century

College: Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon
Supervisors: Dr Michael Asbury, Pablo Lafuente


The primary aim of this research is to analyse the role of curatorial practices conducted after the experiments and theories of Marcel Duchamp, particularly when they pertain to transnational contexts. Thus, the first objective of this thesis is to propose a clearer understanding of the dynamics of post-Duchampian art and its effects on the development of contemporary exhibitions.

Context and background

It begins with the spatiotemporal definitions in which this theoretical framework is positioned: the contemporary proposals in the field of art indicating an erosion of the unequivocal semantic meaning that used to accompany objects in the perception process forged by the modern world. With regards to art, Duchamp was the main name to carry out such operations, in the 20th Century and his legacy has been influencing contemporary art since them.

The artist transferred the interpretation of meaning from the eye to the brain opening an inter-subjective dimension where one object may have many interpretations depending on the context. For Duchamp the challenge of re-contextualisation has inevitably veered towards the artistic experience.

As methodology, it is initially chosen to undertake a critical bibliographical method situating the changes occurred in the transition from the to the 20th Century, in the light of Bauman's sociology and Foucault's archaeology of knowledge, together with critical texts about Duchamp's artistic thinking and curatorial achievements, as for example the writings of Thierry De Duve, Pierre Cabanne and Elena Filipovic.

Afterwards the principals involved in Duchamp's artworks and ideas are discussed leading to subsequent further examination of Duchamp's function as a pioneer curator in exhibitions such as the International Surrealist Exhibition in 1938. Thus, this critical analysis unfolds itself into the examination of exhibitions in which could be identified post-Duchampian characteristics, such as the seminal exhibitions Information in New York, 1970 and the Magiciens de la Terre, in Paris, 1989.

Finally, this thesis traces a map of different historical attempts at relocating post-Duchampian works of art, the last chapters expand on the relationships between the theory developed and exhibitions focusing on the Brazilian Cildo Meireles as case study scrutinizing curatorial operations in order to comprehend how post-Duchampian practices redefined and continue to redefine the semantic aspects of art.

This thesis is therefore a historical-critical research with experimental components since in its final argument, it is proposed a model but not a guide for future curatorial systems based on theoretical and pragmatic analysis developed.