Assembled between 1935-41, Boîte-en-valise is a "traveling museum" of 69 works by Marcel Duchamp that include Fountain, Large Glass, Broyeuse de chocolat, Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy, Tu m', Paris Air, Pliant de voyage, 3 Stoppages Etalon, Bride, Comb, and others.
Duchamp's aim was "to reproduce the paintings and the objects he liked and collect them in a space as small as possible."
Marcel Duchamp, miniature reproduction of Fountain (1917), in Boîte-en-Valise (1935-41)
If the readymade is that object which should be "a work without an artist to make it," the objects in the Boîte-en-valise upset the concept of the readymade by their quality of being remade readymades....
To me, "box works" manifest the other side of mapping, or is it just the same urge? The American artist Mark Dion has just completed a period as artist-in-residence with the AHRC Surrealism Centre. Renowned internationally for his museum-based interventions, Dion’s residency culminated in the creation of a mock bureau(See the slideshow) for surrealist research within the Manchester Museum. Sifting through the Museum’s rich collections with an eye for the strange and unclassifiable, Dion has created a fantastic ambiance that is surrealist in spirit and that evokes, in the manner of a cabinet of curiosity, their passion for collecting objects, both natural and man-made. The bureau will remain in situ for at least 18 months. An artist’s book by Mark Dion that accompanies the installation has been published by Bookworks and is available for purchase. via thingsmagazine
All this took me back to Joseph Cornell project: boxing the universe, who takes images and ideas from the realm of science, and makes us wonder what was the concepts that may have tied them together in his mind. By examining Cornell's selection of materials and the way he has put them together, one can infer--that is, reconstruct--his cosmology "Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)1936Construction15 3/4 x 14 1/4 x 5 7/16 in.Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT Cornell "was making small voyages of discovery, scavenging for relics of the past in New York junk shops and flea markets. To others, these deposits might be refuse, but to Cornell they were the strata of repressed memory, a jumble of elements waiting to be grafted and mated to one another...In the studio he would sort his finds into their eccentric categories - 'Spiders,' 'Moons,' and so forth - and file them with boxes of his own mementos...and from them he made boxes.
JOSEPH CORNELL Untitled (Solar Set)c. 1956-58Construction11 1/2 x 16 1/4 x 3 5/8 in.Collection Donald Karshan, New York
Object (Roses des Vents)begun in 1942 and not finished until 1953. It is full of emblems of voyages Cornell never took, a little box of mummified waves and shrunken exotic coasts, peninsulas, planets, things set in compartments, with a drop-in panel containing twenty-one compasses, each with its needle pointing insouciantly in a different direction from that of its neighbor. Even the map on the inside of the lid, cut from some nineteenth-century German chart book, depicts an excessively remote coastline: that of the Great Australian Bight. The earth is presented not as our daily habitat but as one strange planet among others, which to Cornell it was.
Untitled (Medici Princess)c. 1948Construction17 5/8 x 11 1/8 x 4 3/8 in.Private collection