Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s three short videos, titled One Hundred Thousand Balls, Bubble Dart, and Joker Shuffle, all 2013, comment on contextual aspects of Marcel Duchamp’s work Monte Carlo Bond. The latter are eight bonds that Duchamp issued in 1924 (even though the artist had intended to originally issue 30). They were meant to raise money to fund Duchamp’s system of playing - and winning at - roulette, which he was testing in Monte Carlo the same year.
Whereas Çavuşoğlu’s One Hundred Thousand Balls reflects directly on the “Company Statues” printed on the reverse of Duchamp’s bonds and offers an alternative “cumulative system” of chance, Bubble Dart remarks on the photo-collaged portrait of Duchamp, taken by Man Ray. The original image was a collage of a roulette table and a picture of Duchamp covered in shaving leather with barely recognisable features, his hair twisted into horns. Çavuşoğlu references Duchamps’ hairstyle in particular with Joker Shuffle: the playing cards are thrown sideways and extend like horns, rather than shuffling inwards.
Çavuşoğlu has had a long standing fascination with Duchamp and the latter’s art: in particular, Duchamp’s layering of concept, content, and context in his work, which results in engagement with the intellectual rather than the retinal, has been a great influence on the artist. Çavuşoğlu: “(Duchamp) tried to understand what art is and proposed that art could be anything, but at the same time, he conversed that not everything is art.” Duchamp’s work Monte Carlo Bond in particular is such an example. Duchamp might have questioned the actual system of art and its wider relevance; however, in doing so, he directly influenced current modes of art production, consumption, and distribution.
Monte Carlo Bond additionally is of particular relevance for Çavuşoğlu because of personal and autobiographical reasons. Having grown up in Bulgaria during the Cold War, Çavuşoğlu began to learn how to play chess professionally under the communist system from the age of 5. The discipline came to a premature end, however, when Çavuşoğlu’s father - also an artist - pressured his son to stop playing chess in the fear that it might interfere with Çavuşoğlu’s preparations for the an art school entry examination. Çavuşoğlu: “In Duchamp’s work, the process is reversed: he seemingly abandoned art in order to play chess…”.
Ergin Çavuşoğlu lives and works in London.