Attention and behold: Marcel Duchamp… as a lady! Or, not exactly. This is more than just a giddy Surrealist in a pretty hat and a little rouge. This is Rrose Sélavy, Duchamp’s alter-ego with her own look, her own mind, even her own body of work. Sometimes artists create more than paintings and sculptures — they create people. They form whole other identities, personas. Let’s meet classic alter-egos from art history and contemporary performance practice. Be warned: Gender-bending, age-regression, metamorphosing, and dimension-crossing may occur.
Marcel Duchamp’s female alter-ego Rrose Sélavy fully surfaced in 1921 — a sultry, stylish vixen in photographs by Man Ray. Her name sounds like Eros, c’est la vie, or “Eros, that’s life.” Not just a pretty picture and a fantastic name, Rrose was Marcel, snagging bylines for the Why Not Sneeze Rrose Sélavy? readymade of marble sugar cubes in a birdcage, Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema, and others. Glamorous, at times more evidently masculine, Rrose wasn’t the surrealist’s first genderfuck — observe his moustached Mona Lisa.