MEET MERET


I was asked by Duncan Comrie to make a guest appearance as Meret Oppenheim in his play 'Surrealism Awake' which was playing at PBH Free Fringe Venue 71. He suggested I was free to do and say as I wished from a particular cue he would give during the afternoon performance of August 21, 2015.

To get me into the mood, the other Duncan (McLaren) and I went to 'A Lady's Not a Gents' at Summerhall earlier that day. This show by Julian Spalding and Glyn Thompson suggests that the famous urinal signed R.Mutt by Marcel Duchamp was in fact a feminist work of art by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

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In the forecourt of Summerhall, I came up with a few things that I might say during my walk-on part. Talking in a broad German accent I would introduce myself as Meret Oppenheim:

"YOU VILL HAVE HEARD OF ME. ZE MOST FAMOUS OF ZE SURREALISTS."

I was still talking in a German accent by the time we'd walked across town to Venue 71 on the Free Fringe at Clouds and Soil Restaurant. Duncan (Comrie) was trying to sell tickets to the show. I did what I could to help out.

"I AM MERET OPPENHEIM. SURREALIST EXTRAORDINAIRE. MY PERFORMANCE IS FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY. FEEL THE FUR, YOU STUPID MAN."

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In front of a small but receptive audience, Duncan and his colleague, Richard, did their best to awaken surrealism. Then I walked on and told the audience the true story of the urinal:

"ZIS PIECE HERE WITH THE R.MUTT. ZAT MEANS MUZZER.
MUZZER! MUZZER! IT WAS MADE BY MY FRIEND, ELSA."

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"THIRTY YEARS LATER, THAT BASTARD DUCHAMP ANNOUNCED IT WAS A READY-MADE.
YES. ELSA HAD ALREADY READY-MADE IT!

I showed the audience a version of the fur cup and saucer - a fur mug. Then I told them one thing more in the context of women artists in a world dominated by men:

"FREEDOM IS NOT SOMETHING YOU ARE GIVEN...

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....YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR IT!"

As true now as it was then? Maybe not quite. Thank-you Duncans, Comrie and McLaren.