Sebastian Errazuriz, Complete (Duchamp Series), 2005
If Duchamp’s readymades changed art, and it seems pretty clear that they did, it’s not surprising that artists still return not only to the idea of the readymade but also to Duchamp’s own work. Sebastian Errazuriz’s Complete (Duchamp Series) goes beyond Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel to provide a more complete, though still fragmented, bicycle assemblage. The familiar bicycle wheel upturned and attached to a white painted stool is here. But here it’s accompanied by a second wheel, plus the handlebars and pedals.
With the reference to Duchamp’s sculpture so immediate, Errazuriz’s expanded version could be seen as a bit of a one-liner. For me, what saves the work from being nothing more than a riff on that first readymade is a lightness of touch that some how lets me appreciate the gesture and move on. That’s not to say that Complete (Duchamp Series) doesn’t get beyond the visual joke. Part of what makes Bicycle Wheel interesting is that the wheel has been completely removed from its usual context. Here that context is reestablished but remains non-functional. Though Errazuriz’s bicycle is incomplete, in a way it reminds me of Damián Ortega’s suspended sculptures almost as much as it does of Duchamp’s readymade.