This photograph of Marcel Duchamp, taken by Man Ray in 1921, shows Marcel Duchamp in the role of Rrose Selavy, the artists female alter ego. To introduce Selavy to the public this femme savante (intellectual woman) was photographed by Man Ray as a form of birth certificate of the ‘daughter without mother’.
Dressed in full regalia of furs, rings, pearls and hat and photographed against a neutral background, appearing as a women of high society and apparently questionable morals Duchamp emphasised the ambiguity and clouding of sexual boundaries. To add to the femininity of the portrait Ray and Duchamp touched up the photo with pencil and ink. The name of the female alter ego is also a cryptic comment – the French pronunciation can also be interpreted as ‘Eros, c’est la vie – Eros, that’s life’ Duchamp believed in the universal understanding of eroticism.
Courtesy: D. McLachlan