A bicycle wheel attached to a kitchen stool was Marcel Duchamp’s ironic and cruel response to Umberto Boccioni’s Futurist manifesto. Published in 1911, the manifesto called for a new aesthetic model based on the modern pace of life, and its content was distinctively anti-classical. The Futurists used industrial materials, such as glass, wood, iron, and electric lighting to represent the movement and dynamism of modern life. Duchamp sticks his tongue out at the Futurist aggressiveness; he rebuffs the ode to technology and progress which, in the coming years, were to bring a raging storm into Europe, and rejects the "art of the future" outright. With a single gesture which required little effort, in 1913 he created Bicycle Wheel and Stool, the first readymade work, step one in the birth of Dada, which made him the "dada" of Dada.
Underlain by a blend of gravity and humor, performance of simple acts in a complicated manner, and various combinations of mundane materials woven together, the exhibition "Boys with Toys" introduces five different options for construction and assembly, mechanics and manual labor. Prima facie, the engagement with machines and construction is a quintessential masculine, rough and tough modus, inspired by technical and mechanical know-how. The various machines in the exhibition, however, are characterized by a non-typical tenderness, at times they even appear indifferent, tired, and lethargic. With an inner logic all their own, they neither serve nor produce anything, but rather stand in their own right.
The divergent modi operandi introduced by the participants of this exhibition employ technology in order to question and challenge it. These modes of action originate in their interest in temporality and in the movement of forms in space, in relativity and scale, and combine an equal measure of gravity and lightness. At times the works convey something comforting and soothing, at others they are moving, even desperate, somewhat like a bicycle wheel casually spinning on a kitchen stool.