Chocolate Grinders

Radim Labuda

06.09. – 29.09.06

Installation presents three “concrete” images of real life in the streets of San Francisco, three phenomenological observations of reality, three diary entries from autumn of 2004. Videos are enclosed in a loop of indifferent circular movement just like Duchamp’s the chocolate grinder, a symbol of repetetiveness of predestined physical world and “barrenness of bachelor’s life” (Chalupecký). The title contains, apart from the original sexual readings also other ambivalences. The word “grinder” contains a reference to “bump and grind” or “grinding”, sexually charged dance style connected with african-american culture and r’n’b music. There is also ambivalent reading in the “chocolate grinder” itself. The project also explores shifts between the context of origin and the context of the exhibition. What can be seen as an innocent play with ambivalences of the title in czech and european context could acquire much more explosive reading in american context, as the chocolate reference to skin colour of the protagonists would be understood as a political incorrectness.
Radim Labuda

Almost century since San Francisco’s Palace Hotel was so glamorously rebuilt, Radim Labuda rode by it on his bicycle, late at night. Setting his gaze upon the doorman within, impressed by his laconic metronomic gesture, he locked it, looped it and presents it here as a mechanical function. Ground floor, face forward, the guard’s eye seems to meet the eye of Labuda’s camera briefly as he sways gracefully to and fro. More likely, his attention is inward, or upon himself reflected by the bright lights upon the hotel’s glass door.
A man elsewhere in the same town also catches sight of himself in the glass of a window. Dancing wildly to unheard music, he is in his own world, needing only that brief contact with himself to be reminded that he is still there. Otherwise, he’s oblivious in an intoxicated joyous jig, enclosed publicly away from anyone. Clothes on the street, some bags, somebody’s belongings, stuff perhaps stolen; if not, disgarded–these are his life. Something to be adored, something to be broken, all amid the indifferent motions of cars and people pursuing their daily grind.
In a third video, a man is static. He has slumped onto the van of a friend, silent, passed, indifferent even to himself. Motion here has been supplanted by the pigeons chasing a chunk of bread, locked in their own dance, and delicately looped.
There is a scaffolding of signs that links these three, but any strategy suggested cedes to the ambiguity of the worlds captured within the narrow frame. The Chocolate Grinder of Marcel Duchamp is presented in the lower part of Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. The three drums of the girating machine are part of an ephemeral duo of alchemical incest with apparently “masculine images” reaching out to something “feminine.” Duchamps works are framed within divided glass panes. Labuda’s three framed grinders limit our views, but in doing so they imply tantalizing terrain for foraging, frolicking, or fearing.
William Hollister