Duchamp made Anemic Cinema by filming nine rotating cardboard disks with spirals drawn on them and ten rotating disks inscribed with verbal puns. Alternating on screen, these disks turn in different directions and at varying speeds. The disks with spirals seem to pulse in and out, as if they were three-dimensional, while those with puns must be read, which emphasizes the flatness of their surfaces. Yet both kinds make sexual allusions, those showing spirals through their visual pulsation and those showing texts through the frequent sexual connotations of their puns. The two words of the film’s title are both an anagram and a near palindrome, being readable almost identically forward and backward. The film’s copyright bears the signature of Rrose Sélavy, Duchamp’s fictional female alter ego, as well as his/her thumbprint.
Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013.