Marcel Duchamp - Mile of String (1942)
"Duchamp’s experiments with space and display continued when, after the exodus of many of the Surrealists out of Europe during WWII, Andre Breton called on him to install the first international Surrealist exhibition in the United States.
Titled First Papers of Surrealism after the application papers that most of the émigré artists faced upon entry into the US, the show was held in 1942 at the Whitelaw Reid mansion in New York as a benefit affair for the French Relief Societies.
Having acquired sixteen miles of ordinary white string for the installation, the artist engaged the help of several friends to erect a criss-crossed webbing (in the end, using only a fraction of his overzealous purchase).
The twine traversed the mansion’s former drawing rooms, filled for the exhibition with paintings hung on portable display partitions (paintings being the overwhelming majority of what was on show).
The tangled mesh did not cut off vision completely (it was the frustration, not the elimination of sight that Duchamp desired); nevertheless, the entwinement between and in front of so many of the things ‘on display’ constituted a decided barrier between the spectator and the works of art.”