"Copyart, D.C.," the exhibit of Xerography now at 1734 Connecticut Ave. NW., is much more fun to think about than it is to look at.
Though many of the pictures here are small and crude and dull, that does not seem to matter. What counts is that they represent A New Form of Art.
Xerography is quick. It is also inexpensive. And -- at least in Washington where paper-pushing rules and the requisite equipment is not too hard to find -- it is a king of art that is nicely non-elitist. Anyone can do it. If you can run the Xerox, you, too, can pioneer The New Copyart.
Next time you stand in line at the office copier, do not curse the queue. Instead ponder progress. Think how far we've come.
Begin at the beginning. First there was the twig, which was better than the finger for drawing in the sand. Later came the brush, an invention that permitted the painting of cave walls. Still later came the etching press, the camera and video -- and now we have the Xerox. Upward soars technology, onward marches art.
With the Xerox you can Xerox weeds, dead fish, and feathers. Pictures of such objects are included in this show.
With the Xerox you can copy not just boring letters, but record jackets, pens, cigar boxes, red peppers.And with a color Xerox you can copy them in color. Many still lifes of this sort are in this exhibition.
With the new technologies you can also transfer images from paper onto cotton T-shirts. A number are on view here. And you can produce magazines, magazines with pictures. One, put out by Danger Press, is called "Abortion." It is on sale at this show.
Many of its pages, and most of the pictures here, are casual collages. Making them is easy: Snip out this or that (a photograph, a poem, a bit of cloth, a map), place them on the Xerox, press the correct button and -- voila! -- Copyright.
The possibilities are endless, but the collages in this show all look much the same. Xerography homogenizes.All collage components, despite their varied sources, lose individuality when copied by machine.
Though Copyart is mostly dull -- the viewer tires quickly of these small surreal pictures -- it also can shock. The new technoligy has altered the rude pastime of "mooning." Though wags in local offices have been known to drop their trousers and sit upon the Xerox, the resulting images have not been included in this juried show.
Instead it includes Kevin Mac-Donald's pictures of children in midair, James Dean's altered image of a Beatles' record jacket, an untitled color field picture made by Sarah Morse, and a portrait of Gene Autrey who, like Shakespeare's Bottom, has been given a horse face.
"Copyart, D.C." was organized, and juried by, the Local 1734 Art Collective, a nonprofit, collectively run organization formed in 1973 by seven local women artists. Last fall they offered us a show called "Edible Art." On view in that exhibit was a version of Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descend-in the Stair" made out of chopped liver. "We awarded cookie prizes," recalls 1734's Laura Seldman. "After the award cermony, we ate them."
The Xerox Corp. has given a $2,000 grant to the collective for the current exhibition. It also has lent a $22,000 color copier to the gallery for the duration of the show, which closes April 2.