I recently did a blog show about Man Ray, notoriously strange and sexually libertine Dadaist artist. For me, one of Ray's most interesting Dadaistic excursions was his collaboration with another famous Dadist, Marcel Duchamp. Together they created a portfolio of images of Rrose Selavy, a female character who Duchamp inhabited. Rrose fascinated many artists: in addition to Ray's photos and a sculpture by Duchamp, since 1922, she has appeared in poems, plays, music and an unreleased 1990s film.
Was Duchamp transgendered? Or was Rrose pure artifice? According to curators at MIT, who recently ran a gallery show on cross-dressing, Ray and Duchamp were purely focused on shock value and consciousness raising: "the transgressive act of dressing as a woman was a strategy intended to both shock the bourgeoisie as well as to inflate the sexually intense agendas of the Surrealists whose mostly male cohort felt some threat from an emerging feminism in 1920's Paris."
Probably that too. But I think there's more to Duchamp's transformational exercises than politics and shock art. What do you see? Photo after the jump.