A Cheeky Tale, 2013-

A Cheeky Tale takes its cues from Marcel Duchamp’s assisted readymade L.H.O.O.Q. By the early 20th century, Leonardo DaVinci’s painting Mona Lisa had become a mass reproduced tourist icon. In 1919, Duchamp altered a commercial reproduction of “Mona Lisa” by adding a moustache and the letters L.H.O.O.Q. When pronounced in French, the letters sound like "Elle a chaud au cul" (she is hot in the arse). It is also close to "avoir chaud au cul", which Duchamp loosely translated to “there is fire below”. It is said that Duchamp, among other things, rescued DaVinci’s masterpiece from the banality of reproduction (although I am particularly interested in the mischievous wordplay and innuendo). Fast forward 100 years and it is Duchamp’s works that have become banal, mass reproduced pop culture images.

The series A Cheeky Tale starts with cheap postcard reproductions of Duchamp’s work. Beneath each, a combination of letters has been printed. When pronounced in English, they create puns that are sexual euphemisms suggested by the accompanying image. These include “Ride the Unicycle”, “Chase the boys”, “Rotate her tires”, “Large ass”, A pole in the air”, and “tickle the nob”, among others.

The series consists of four stanzas. There are six postcard + pun vignettes in each, with variations in image and text from one stanza to the next. The final vignette ends where A Cheeky Tale began, with Duchamp’s pun, but accompanying a different and equally fitting work. This assisted readymade series was completed during the year of the centennial of the readymade.
—Dan Mills, 2014