Elizabeth Jaeger "Eros C'est La Vie," 2013
8 x 10.5"
soft bound, perfect binding
54 pages, black & white printed on via velum, with black Plike cover
Published in a hand-numbered edition of 100
Printed & Bound in Brooklyn, NY
Elizabeth Jaeger is an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR and spent a year at the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Arts in Nancy, France. In France she met her alter-ego, with whom she traveled around the United States, enacting a performance-dance piece whose instructions where sent to them via text message each time they reached a new destination. She had a solo-show at Eli Ping Gallery in 2013, and also in 2013, her work was exhibited at Jack Hanley's and Eli Ping Gallery's booths at NADA Miami, and at 247365's booth at NADA NY. Group shows include: Former Models, curated by Merkx & Gwynne, BRIC, New York, 2013; Snail Salon, curated by Adrienne Rubenstein, Regina Rex, New York, 2013; That Being Said, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, 2013; Where the Sun Don't Shine, 247365, New York, 2012; and Rock Lobster, Shoot the Lobster, New York, 2012. She is currently preparing for her first solo-show at Jack Hanley.
Elizabeth Jaeger's book "Eros C'est la Vie" was born in late 2013, just as Calvin Tomkins's The Afternoon Interviews with Marcel Duchamp was a ubiquitous subway accessory. In France, it is not uncommon to hear Duchamp's name cited as the departure point for many artists' discursive practices. While his legacy is perhaps less pervasive in the United States, where he nevertheless spent the greater part of his life (he became a U.S. citizen in 1955), it's rare to see contemporary art that does not (directly or indirectly) evoke fundamental aspects of Duchamp's ideology or Duchampian attitudes towards art and art making. Courting freedom from "retinal art" seems like a quaint pastime; it's difficult to project into the past and acknowledge the full impact that his "ready-made" urinal-as-art would have provoked in 1917, or the fact that Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) was considering an aberration is almost unfathomable considering its contemporaneous classicism. Weighing the subjectivity and conscious individuality of the artist as the subtext of their work, taking into account that the creative act is performed first by the artist and then by the spectator who brings the work into contact with the exterior world--these concepts are "etants donnes" these days. Yeah. Get the picture?
"Eros C'est la Vie" engages directly with Duchamp's alter-ego, Rrose Selavy, a cross-dressing persona who liberated Duchamp from hegemonic Bourgeois morality and who produced synchronistic work as an autonomous artist. Man Ray's portrait of Duchamp as Rrose Selavy, coy and grotesque, is filled with ribald humor: Duchamp as trickster joyfully plying puns and inverting expectations of decorum. Jaeger literally spent weeks filtering through the most magnificent and most putrid visual archive that exists, the Internet, to find pairs that not only matched formalistically but also expressed the elusive "attitude" of paintings of nude women on which the very foundations of our Western visual cultural are built. She looked at so much pornography, ranging from the amateurish to the highly polished, that her computer crashed and her boyfriend became alarmed. She found patterns, recurrent themes, prevalent tastes and typologies. She found the same woman corresponding to multiple paintings, she found multiple women corresponding to the same painting. Carefully, skillfully, she built up a body of work that exposes the persistence of the male-to-female gaze (echoing hierarchical organizations that extend into most aspects of our lives), and posed a question poignant in its simplicity: who decides what is art?