Print Reviews

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The Compact Duchamp: Amp After Amp

by Guy R Beining

Chapultepec Press

A hundred years ago, artists had it easy. Line a coffee cup with fur, call it art, and change the world. Surrealism took its artistic vision from dreams, but the Dada crowd said, “Who needs sleep? We can make this stuff up after an all night espresso and absinthe bender.” And they were right. The public was rightly skeptical of art that was low on technical skill and long on cheek, but after a few decades of marketing, we all sort of agree that a pickled sheep’s head or a hotel room covered in cheese COULD be art, although we might take the time to miss the traveling exhibition. Today the stakes are much higher — you need newer and more outrageous concepts to impress the jaded galleries, and the middle class market is happy with something blue from Sears that looks good over the sofa. And black and white photocopied collage? That is SO 1958.

Author Guy Beining writes poems and makes art, and this slim volume of odd image juxtaposition and minimalist poetry offers an introduction to his “larger visual poetics.” I can’t speak to that, but the book at hand is a small 70-page aggregation of his collages. Printed in black and write, they seem wrested from old-school porn, chemistry text books, advertising, and street graffiti. I confess I’m at a loss to interpret what he’s trying to say, and suspect there is no “there” there. Some of the word juxtapositions are amusing, and while I could quote them under Fair Use, I think they lose what impact they have stripped from their fellows. Images of submissive women, circles found in the commonest locations, and dislocated industrial situations fill the pages.

I find the last page.

It has a sketch, facing a 50 word biography.

Then the back cover.

ISBN 0-9718095-2-6

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