Vision Doble (Double Vision) is an online journal sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico, covering art and artists on the island where we have just published our review, in English and Spanish, of an exhibition based on an homage and response to Marcel Duchamp.

Artist Baruch Vergara and son Bruno playing chess with Cheap Trick chessboard, by Omar Velázquez (Puerto Rico), 2017. Photo: Jan Galligan.

Given: 1. The Readymade Found Object, Fountain; 2. The Multiple, in seventeen variations.

Returning to Santa Olaya from a visit to Mayagüez to see an art exhibition based on Marcel Duchamp, we were pleased to find in our mailbox a new book of interviews with Duchamp conducted by Calvin Tomkins. Produced by artist Paul Chan’s new venture Badlands Unlimited, The Afternoon Interviews features previously unpublished conversations conducted in 1965. In the introduction, Chan asks Tomkins, fifty years after those interviews, “What do you think is Duchamp’s legacy today?” Tompkins replies, “His need, his passion to question everything, even the very nature of art. The real point of (his) Readymades was to deny the possibility of defining art. Art can be anything.”


Dados: 1. El readymade Fountain, un objeto encontrado; 2. El múltiple, en diecisiete variaciones

Regresando a Santa Olaya de hacer una visita a una exhibición sobre Marcel Duchamp, en Mayagüez, fue un placer encontrar en nuestro buzón un nuevo libro de entrevistas con Duchamp, dirigido por Calvin Tomkins. Producida por la nueva aventura empresarial, Badlands Unlimited, del artista Paul Chan, The Afternoon Interviews, presenta conversaciones que se dieron en 1965, no publicadas anteriormente. En la introducción, Chan le pregunta a Tomkins, cincuenta años después de aquellas entrevistas: “¿Cuál es el legado de Duchamp en la actualidad? Tomkins respondió: “Su necesidad, su pasión por cuestionarlo todo, incluso la misma naturaleza del arte. La verdadera clave de (sus) readymades fue negar la posibilidad de definir el arte. El arte puede ser cualquier cosa”.


Jan Galligan, Baruch Vergara, Lillian Mulero, photo by Bruno Vergara

It takes two to TANG(le) / sometimes three or more ...

LIVING WITH DUCHAMP, TWO / ROSE OCEAN, exhibition curated by artist Michael Oatman and Tang Museum director Ian Berry opened in Saratoga Springs, NY, Feb 17, 2018, coinciding with the birthday of our daughter Lydia Mulero. Featuring over 50 artists, the exhibition was designed by students from Oatman's RPI architectural seminar on Marcel Duchamp. Inspired by exhibitions organized by Duchamp, the installation includes surprises and more than a few unexpected obstacles

The revised, final list of artists in the exhibition includes works by Lillian Mulero and Fred Escher along with Jan Galligan's collage from 1974 honoring Fat City School of Finds Art founder, Lowell Darling. 

Pictured are Michael Oatman's students with director Ian Berry and exhibition coordinator Torrance Fish reviewing the model for the installation. 

Lillian Mulero's MIRROR painting, oil on silver leaf, 1990. Exhibited in the exhibition INTERROGATING IDENTITY which traveled to Grey Art Gallery, NYU; Museum of Contemporary Art, Boston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Madison Art Center, Madison, WI during 1991 and 1992. Permanent collection Tang Museum, 2017. (on the right) Robert Gober, UNTITLED, 1992 - 1996.

Fred Escher's CONVERSATIONS WITH MARCEL, black and white photograph, 1970. From the collection of Lydia Mulero, donated to Tang Museum permanent collection, 2017.

(foregraond) Jan Galligan's WOMAN OF THE CENTURY, collaged magazine cover with magic marker, homage to Lowell Darling, 1974. First exhibited in LIVING WITH DUCHAMP (1) at the Tang Museum, 2003. Acquired by the Tang, 2017.(background) Jasper Johns, CUP 2 PICASSO, signed lithograph 1973.

Exhibition overview. Exhibition photos by Lydia Mulero, Feb 17, 2018

Exhibition detail, showing the PEEPHOLE, described by Lydia as "In the peephole was a film that featured Paul de Jong played over a two way mirror so you could see the people in the gallery walking around behind the film. The people didn’t know you could see them unless they’d already looked in the peephole."

ARTISTS LIST WITH STRINGS, which Lydia said "were an audience participation effort. You could tie one string on the artist wall which lead to the next wall over with the names of the students who put together the show." Doing this would create a maze, which Oatman suggests might eventually make the exhibit nearly impassable.

Richard Lovrich's 2003 photograph of Galligan looking into the PEEPHOLE at the first LIVING WITH DUCHAMP EXHIBIT at the Tang. Galligan used this photo for the announcement card for his 2006 exhibition at Albany Center Galleries.

Jan Galligan's collage APOLONINE ENAMELED, 1972, exhibited in a Duchamp themed exhibition curated by Kasalina Maliamu Nabakooza and Michael Oatman, at the Schelnutt Gallery, RPI, Troy, NY, 2016.




(American, b. 1955)
Untitled, 1990
Alkyd and acrylic on aluminum
96 × 54 in. (243.84 × 137.16 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Kaiser, Tony and Sue Krausen, Dr. Donald M. Levy, Marianne and Sheldon B. Lubar, Vicki and Allen Samson, Bud and Sue Selig, and Dr. and Mrs. James Stadler
Photo credit: Luhring Augustine (Gallery)
Currently on View at Milwaukee Art Museum

AUCTION REPORT, 2012 via the Observer UK

$7.8 M. Artist Record for Christopher Wool Set at Christie’s Evening Sale

At Christie’s London contemporary sale, Christopher Wool’s Untitled set a new artist record. The price, after the buyer’s premium, was £4,913,250 ($7,758,022) high above the estimate of £2,500,000-3,500,000 ($3,947,500 – $5,526,500).

The piece spells out the word “FOOL,” and beat out the artist’s last record, $5,010,500 (according to Artnet), which happens to have been set by Blue Fool, a canvas with the word “FOOL” spelled out in the exact same way and in the same lettering except the previous record is in blue and the new one is in black 

Truth, nothing, but …

by Jan Galligan & Lillian Mulero, Santa Olaya, PR

Rafael Vargas Bernard asked recently on Facebook what it would take to get someone to write about his exhibition Sobre-Analisis-Sobre presented at El cuadrado gris. While offered in jest, his entreaty opens up a number of interesting questions. As artists and art writers, we understand the quest for attention and the struggle to find an audience

Artist Rafael Vargas Bernard asks, “who do I have to bribe?”


Relocating from upstate New York, we came here with an abiding interest in the art of the island and the artists making that work. Our initial experience suggested that it was difficult to find a centralized resource for art information. The local newspapers and magazines provided occasional articles, but often those articles were a replay of an exhibition's press release, full of information, but lacking insight. The past seven years have shown improvement. Now art writers often give careful attention – as they explore the methods and intentions of the artists under discussion. Now there are more articles on a regular basis, and writers are given more space for their opinions.

Meanwhile, a couple of small but important local art magazines have ceased to publish, with nothing to take their place. This may be a function of the changing way that such information is distributed. As it becomes increasingly difficult to support printed publications, they are replaced by online resources. We still prefer to read articles in print. The information seems to have more substance and the pictures are more impressive on the printed page. But, our opinion does not have much influence. The world of publishing is rapidly changing and we need to adapt or we will be left behind, stranded with a pile of yellowing newsprint and curling glossy magazine pages.

We have discovered that online publishing is crucial. Online provides a forum in which the writer has more control, immediate access to an audience, and the means to get direct feedback from the readers. We do not see this as a replacement for print publishing, but rather an enhancement, which seems to be the attitude of most traditional publishers. There are few newspapers or magazines that do not also have an online presence, and many of those sponsor blogs in addition to their websites.

For the independent writer, online publishing provides intellectual freedom, the opportunity to express an opinion, and a means for getting your word “out there.” Attracting and keeping readers can be difficult, but there are tools to help ease the way. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat can be useful in this process. You can connect a blog to those resources, and every time an article is posted, notices are automatically cross-posted to those other forums. Then, it becomes a project of building an audience through online networking while continuing to add new content.

It should be obvious that we are not limiting our remarks to writing about art. Instead we suggest that this provides a blue-print for doing creative work and seeking an audience. Our previous article, ART IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET was a cautionary tale for artists using the internet to promote their work. Efforts must be taken to ensure that your intellectual property is protected. You don't want to give away your production, nor would you like to see someone else make use of your work and take credit for it.

So, what about Vargas Bernard and his quest for attention to his exhibition? Searching for him on Google returns 2000 articles, images, and videos related to his art. On Facebook he has over 2000 connections. El cuadrado gris has over 2000 followers. There is probably a large overlap, but the audience in both cases is substantial. Scrolling through the Facebook pages of the gallery and the artist, one finds many comments, questions and emoticons. To what exactly do they refer? For his exhibition, Vargas Bernard installed four works in the basement space of the gallery as shown in this diagram …
Each work consists of common objects connected to home-made electronics. A) tocaperiodicos, consists of a record player turntable whose stylus has been replaced by an optical sensor which reads the patterns on the front page of local daily newspapers, which are used instead of vinyl records. What the viewer hears through headphones is sounds produced by the spinning newspaper.

Tocaperiodicos, artwork by Rafael Vargas Bernard, 2017

B) franja reciproca is an elaborate piece of flat plastic electronic ribbon cable to which sensors and other electronic have been hand-wired. This work requires two viewer participants, each of whom inserts a thumb into a small harness. While attached, as they move around, they can hear modifications to the sound of their heart rhythms. 

 Omar Obdulio Pena Forty, Rafael Vargas Bernard and Lillian Mulero, with franja reciproca, artwork by Rafael Vargas Bernard, 2017

franja reciproca, (installation viewartwork by Rafael Vargas Bernard, 2017

C) discojon island
is a map of Puerto Rico with various electronics and speakers attached, which emit sounds when approached by the viewer.

discojon island (detail) artwork by Rafael Vargas Bernard, 2017

D) Reclamor firme, the most elaborate work, includes a side room with the floor covered in dirt, underneath which has been installed sensors and electronics. The viewer is encouraged to pick up a flag. The bottom of the flag pole also has a sensor. The viewer is instructed to plant the flag in the ground. As the pole strikes the dirt, a loud drum sound is produced while a segment of La Borinqueña fills the room. The more one bangs the floor, the louder the sound and the longer the segment that is heard.

Reclamor firme, (installation view), artwork by Rafael Vargas Bernard, 2017

Reclamor firme, (installation view), Lillian Mulero performing -- artwork by Rafael Vargas Bernard, 2017

Regarding the meaning, when possible we prefer let artists speak for themselves. Vargas Bernard says, “When the public comes into the exhibition, I want them to open the door and activate the work, and to feel an ownership of this work. Because I created it, therefore I release it so that they might do what they want, while creating their own version in the process.”

He says he considers these works to be “strange experiments” which “measure vital signs” and which can “create sensations and emotions between two persons.” His discojon island, while appearing to be a traditional painting, in fact “reacts to the audience, and changes depending on their proximity.”

As for us, we will take his word for it.

FAIR USE or FAIR GAME, art in the internet age

PICTURE CAPTION (left to right) : Elaine Sturtevant, 1966, Duchamp Man Ray Portrait; Richard Pettibone, 1968, Andy Warhol, "Marilyn Monroe," 1964; Sherrie Levine, 1981, After Walker Evans; Deborqh Kass, 2012, The Deb Suite 
[ARTICLE AS PUBLISHED in En Rojo cultural supplement to Claridad newspaper]

by Jan Galligan & Lillian Mulero, Santa Olaya, PR

"It's all fair use," says Jan. "Maybe so," replies Lillian, "but in any event, these days we are all fair game..."

The internet changes everything. This is the mantra and the meme of the moment, and the art world finds itself under the spell. The rules have changed in ways that make it seem like there are no rules. What once was difficult, now is easy. What once took time and effort now can be done in a few keystrokes. Where previously art resided in semi-protected environments: art studios, galleries, museums – now artists, galleries and museums present themselves in the all-sharing, everything up for grabs domain of the world wide web. On one hand this provides for enormous exposure, while on the other, it opens an artist's oeuvre to appropriation, adaptation and reuse, often without the artist's knowledge or permission.

Appropriation has been a part of the practice of art since the early 20th century, originating with Dada and Surrealism. The intention of these artists was to provoke a sense of heightened verisimilitude, while making comment on the contemporary milieu. In the 1950s Robert Rauschenberg created the first contemporary art work employing the work of another artist, when he convinced Willem de Kooning to provide one of his pencil drawings which Rauschenberg then laboriously erased, creating his Erased de Kooning Drawing.

Appropriation became an art movement in the 1980s with the work of Sherrie Levine, rephotographing Walker Evans seminal pictures; Mike Bidlo recreating paintings by Andy Warhol, Picasso and Jackson Pollock; Elaine Sturtevant making perfect copies of Warhol and Marcel Duchamp; and Richard Pettibone creating exact miniature replicas of Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns.

Appropriation art matured and the concept became more sophisticated in the 1990s as other artists took up the practice including Deborah Kass, who made Warhol-like paintings using her own image; Damien Hirst, who used the Disney Mickey Mouse to his own ends when he wasn't making paintings using Spin-Art machines; and the artist who now epitomizes appropriation art, Richard Prince.

Unlike other artists of his generation, Prince embraced the internet – as a means to present and promote his work and as the source of material for his art. Recently this has led to a series of law suits against Prince, as well as against artist Jeff Koons, by the authors of the originals. The success or failure of those law suits has hinged on the concept of fair use – whether or not the new art work sufficiently transforms, or definitively comments on the original source. Prince was sued by a photographer whose images of rastafarians Prince used in his paintings, the result was a split decision: 23 of the paintings were deemed fair use, five were not. Koons was sued successfully by a photographer whose photo was the model for a Koons sculpture of a couple holding eight puppies; and most recently by the photographer of the 1986 Gordons gin advertisements Koons rephotographed for his own Luxury and Degradation series of 1986; that case is still in the courts.

Facebook was founded in 2004 and Instagram in 2010. Both are now heavily utilized by artists for self-promotion. Some artists now directly present their work on Facebook or Instagram, and a few are trying to make those platforms work metaphorically as their canvas or paintbrush. The problem is, that while they are public entities providing world-wide access, according to a copyright attorney in New York – by posting pictures and videos, you grant Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” Instagram's terms of service states: “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

So, where does that leave the artist in today's internet free-for-all? One would be advised to proceed with caution when uploading personal artworks of any sort to the internet. You cannot stamp them with a copyright notice and expect that it will be honored or remain in force. On public forums your work is fair game; unless you take the trouble to publish your work in a more controlled private format, say on your own website, or a website where their terms let you retain copyright to your original material. Fair game means anyone, anywhere can collect your work and do with it as they wish: use it outright, incorporate it into their own creations or stamp it with their name and present and sell it as their own.

Closer to home, in 2005 Spanish conceptual artist Antoni Muntadas was commissioned to create a public art project for the Roosevelt station of the inter-urban train. He used photographs from two books by photographer Jack Delano: De San Juan a Ponce en el Tren and Puerto Rico Mio. Muntadas work is titled On Translation: El Tren Urbano, and reproduces Delano's photographs exactly, enlarging them to enormous, 20 x 30 foot, backlit transparencies. In documents regarding this work, Muntadas acknowledges Delano. Although he does not specify that his work is an homage, clearly it is an artistic appropriation.

Contrast this with the work of local artist Carlos Mercado who has appropriated many of Jack Delano's photographs, turning them into a series he calls Iconos, in which he gives no mention of Delano, in the titles or accompanying descriptions.

(left) Antoni Muntadas, On Translation: El Tren Urbano, Roosevelt Station; (right) Carlos Mercado, Iconos, employing colorized photographs of Jack Delano

Mercado's addition of color to Delano's photographs undermines their iconic power, turning them into a decorative pastiche that renders them as oversized picture postcards. Further negating their original meaning, Mercado has given each of the photographs his own title. For instance, a 1940s Delano picture of a group of workers, packed onto a farm truck, is titled COMO SALCHICHA EN LATA. Mercado is able to use Delano's photographs for this purpose without concerns of copyright because they are freely available for download at the Library of Congress. An interesting exercise at best, Mercado's pictures, unlike the carefully considered work of Muntadas, do not pay tribute to – or in any way honor – the original art of Jack Delano.

(in US copyright law) the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.

(hunting, archaic) quarry that may legitimately be pursued according to the rules of a particular sport

MECA art fair, San Juan, PR -- June 1-4, 2017 acquisitions with links to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Picture caption -  various items from the MECA art fair, on the couch at home in Santa Olaya, PR including: Tunica LESS THAN NOTHING shopping bag (Embajada); [his] EL ODIOSO OLOR DE LA VERDAD (the hateful odor of the truth) & [her] SONAMOS BAJO EL MISMO CIELO (we dream under the same sky) T-shirts from Rirkit Tiravanija & Tomas Vu (their GREEN GO HOME project); poster (MECA); books, postcards and announcements (various)

Picture caption -  (DETAILS): Ilan Stavans & Adal, I LOVE MYSELFIE, Duke University Press, 2017; Karlo Andre Ibarra, A VECES SUENO QUE CAE UN METEORITO SOBRE MI PAIS Y LO CONSTRUYE (sometimes I dream that a meteorite fell on my country and rebuilt it), Projecto Local, 2016; SINESTESIA (synthesis), photo exhibit by Arnaldo Cotto, Casa Aboy, summer 2017; JUNTE (join), special project in Adjuntas, PR, summer 2017; OUT OF SPACE,  curated by Andrea Bauza and Melissa M. Ramos Borges for FADS; MULTIMEDIA, Eva Mayha ProjectsDOBLE AMARILLO (double yellow) painting by Julio Suarez at Galeria Agustina Ferreyra; MECA art fair poster; New Yorker magazine, May 15, 2017 issue; ESTADIDAD (statehood) informational flyer advocating statehood in the June 11, 2017 plebiscite on status for Puerto Rico, and the PIP (independence) position


La Barra de Paquito, with Christopher Rivera, Paquito, Juni Figueroa, Jorge Gonzalez, Lillian Mulero, Bubu Negron

Tropical Readymades (assisted): the artist as curator
by Jan Galligan & Lillian Mulero, Santa Olaya, PR

In 1913 Marcel Duchamp presented Bicycle Wheel, the first in a series of artworks he called Readymades, objects selected using a method of visual indifference in which the idea came first. At the time, André Breton defined readymade as “an ordinary object elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of the artist.” To create Bicycle Wheel Duchamp selected the front wheel and fork of a black bicycle, mounted it upside down on the seat of a white wooden four-legged stool, then signed and dated the work, adopting readymade, a term used to describe manufactured items, distinguishing them from handmade goods. Duchamp adapted the term ironically to specifically define artworks he would create merely by selection. Because he combined two already made objects into one, he labeled Bicycle Wheel a Readymade (assisted) and then created others including With Hidden Noise,  a ball of twine clamped between two brass plates, joined by four screws. An unknown object was secretly placed inside the ball by one of his friends, and he never discovered what it was. Examples of “pure” Readymades include In Advance of a Broken Arm, 1915, a snow shovel with the title written on the handle, and Traveler's Folding Item, 1916, a leather Underwood typewriter cover, signed and dated by Duchamp.

In 2005 Jesus “Bubu” Negron was included in the Whitney Museum Biennial, where he presented Honoris Causa, consisting of a table from an African street vendor selling handicrafts, coupled with a hot dog cart – locating them both outside the museum. In 2014, Radames “Juni” Figueroa was selected for the Whitney Biennial, and he created Breaking the Ice, a small wooden structure, similar to a typical Puerto Rican casita, that sought, says Figueroa “to bring a bit of Caribbean atmosphere to New York with references to the tropical and beachy architecture of Puerto Rico, and which included several heaters placed to warm up the space, recreating a tropical climate.”

Late last summer, Negron and Figueroa took over the Embajada gallery on calle Cesar Gonzalez in San Juan, and turned it into a clandestine speak-easy, of the sort found along the calles of Bayamon. They called it La Barra de Paquito, named after Figueroa's dog, Paquito – who, for the duration of the exhibition, served as the bartender.  

Artists following a similar aesthetic, Negron and Figueroa until this exhibition, had not previously created art together. Billed as a one-person exhibition of new work by Negron, the project was curated by Figueroa who, in the manner of his Whitney installation, built the make-shift bar from various scraps of lumber, at a slightly small scale – to fit the stature of his dog Paquito.

Negron made a number of works specifically for the exhibition, including a series of 30 photographs laminated onto shaped wooden panels, recalling low-cost religious items found in discount stores around the island. Each photo depicts an invented internet meme of the sort typically found on Facebook. Apparently, all of the meme slogans came by way of text messages exchanged between Negron and Figueroa prior to their exhibit. About his artwork, Negron says, “I like working on projects that promote social interactions (usually) against authorities or power structures. What results, usually becomes an art object or documentation,” or as he has been know to say, “Delving into the bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla.”

Other works created by Negron include two cute puppies painted on the back of cardboard beer cases and a slot machine simulating the locally made and illegitimately rigged machines found in convenience stores around the island, this one made of paper mache, cardboard, and an iPad which displays three dogs as the winning combination.

In addition to the work of Negron, Figueroa chose complimentary works by fifteen other artists, some displayed on the bar and others hung on the walls of the back room, including a painting by Leo Fitzpatrick that says: A MAN WALKS INTO A BAR, and a mixed media group of pint liquor bottles by Jessie Stead & R. Lyon called: Duh Angel Signature Cocktail.

In the leadup to their exhibit, on Facebook Negron and Figueroa posted a series of announcements and messages, all carrying the theme: NOTHING CONCEPTUAL. However, it's possible they were speaking ironically, as in NOTHING PERSONAL – which when used as an apology implies that the speaker really did not mean what he was saying. Here, Negron and Figueroa mean exactly what they say. Both artists have a long history of making work and creating installations that are simultaneously entertaining and a challenge to the viewer's sensibilities. Make no mistake, this is art of the most interesting sort, and – it is conceptual. 

In 1969 Sol Lewitt published 35 Sentences on Conceptual Art in Art-Language magazine. A couple of examples: #1) Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach; #14) The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept; and #30) There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.

At that time, conceptual artists were considered dry, humorless, intellectual, and against any art that was decorative or representational. Developed in opposition to the tenets of critic Clement Greenberg, who championed formalism against illusion, conceptual art promoted ideas above objects. As artist Lawrence Weiner declared: “Once you know about a work of mine you own it. There is no way I can get inside someone's head to remove it.”

Now you know about some of the work of Jesus “Bubu” Negron and Radames “Juni” Figueroa and so you own it -- it is yours do with as you wish. Just be careful that they don't come looking for you …

Nothing Conceptual, La Barra de Paquito by Bubu Negron, The Warriors

Embajada, Calle Cesar Gonzalez, 382 –

Jesus “Bubu” Negron

Radames “Juni” Figueroa