other Alfred Jarry project

use a bicyle

theater piece (the play)

See also ETANT DONNE - street version ... and ETANT DONNE - Bicycle Machine version for Halfinger (alpine horses)

Duchamp's ÉTANT DONNÉS revisited through the eyes of Alfred Jarry




brought to you by Alfred Jarry and:





bike duchamps



DO NOT PUBLISH THIS IMAGE without THE WRITTEN consent of Rainer Ganahl


DO NOT PUBLISH THIS IMAGE without THE WRITTEN consent of Rainer Ganahl


DO NOT PUBLISH THIS IMAGE without THE WRITTEN consent of Rainer Ganahl




Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race

Lasting about 6 min, a WOMAN taking hte place of JESUS is pulled by 4 cyclist while we hear through speakers the text : Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race in which Jarry plays with his religious background and makes Jesus Christ a cyclist being killed on a wheel. 4 cyclists trying to quarter, to pull a part a naked woman in four directions. In front of all this, a transparent door will stand with the outlines of the hole taken from Duchamp's Etant Donnee.

Quartering with horses was an old method of torture and equivalent to wheeling and crossing, the way, Jesus Christ was killed. Jarry's text insinuates both methods. In the stage version quartering is taken literally with Christ played by a woman which allows me not only to allude to the gender specific ambiguity Alfred Jarry is known for, but also to link the Passion text with the Supermale text and open it up for further associations, in particular to the famous piece by Marcel Duchamp Etant Donnee. This third act will end with a still image which restages his famous Philadelphia piece. Instead of the gas lamp the bicycles remain on the stage. Like in the 24 Hours text segment of the Supermale a glass piece is scattered and signify the end, alluding also to Duchamp's work. (In Jarry's texts, glass breaks in various love scenes, something Duchamp could have picked up from him).


A performance for a larger theater setting

8 bicyclistes tearing one woman apart...a naked female Jesus
(see quartering: - quartering = cruxifixation

1 transparent glass with a white circle (outlines resembles the Etant Donnée outlines) in middle indicating a kind of a whole >>.

reference to the text : supermale , 82 times
(not 52 (as on the drawing - but 82 times)

1 man sitting in front of the glass, observing and counting 82 times.. while the bikes are tearing.... (the bikes a tearing apart machine)

in the middle of the performance : somebody will come and put down a lantern.. (like in ETANT DONNEE)

I want to stress the Duchamp references: a whole to look through in the shape of Etant Donnée, sexual explicitness, and the broken glass.

(in the storry glass breaks)

and in the back voice reading slowly the Jarry text..."The Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race"

at one point at the end.. : glass will also scatter.. - like in the book: a glass panel will crash

Jesus is here interpreted by a woman - gender ambivalence (as identity ambivalence) plays also a role in Alfred Jarry as in Duchamp

This performance wil be SPONSORED BY PERPETUAL MOTION FOOD - a banner on the stage (hanging) will indicate it.

Duchamp might also have loved Alfred jarrys word plays and games with words

estimated length of this performance: about 10 mintues


The Passion Considered
as an Uphill Bicycle Race
by Alfred Jarry

Barabbas, slated to race, was scratched.

Pilate, the starter, pulling out his clepsydra or water clock, an operation which wet his hands unless he had merely spit on them -- Pilate gave the send-off.

Jesus got away to a good start.

In those days, according to the excellent sports commentator St Mathew, it was customary to flagellate the sprinters at the start the way a coachman whips his horses. The whip both stimulates and gives a hygienic massage. Jesus, then, got off in good form, but he had a flat right away. A bed of thorns punctured the whole circumference of his front tyre.

Today in the shop windows of bicycle dealers you see a reproduction of this veritable crown of thorns as an ad for puncture-proof tyres. But Jesus's was an ordinary single-tube racing tyre.

The two thieves, obviously in cahoots and therefore 'thick as thieves', took the lead.

It is not true that there were any nails. The three objects usually shown in the ads belong to a rapid-change tyre tool called the 'Jiffy'.

We had better begin by telling about the spills; but before that the machine itself must be described.

The bicycle frame in use today is of relatively recent invention. It appeared around 1890. Previous to that time the body of the machine was constructed of two tubes soldered together at right angles. It was generally called the right-angle or cross bicycle. Jesus, after his puncture, climbed the slope on foot, carrying on his shoulder the bike frame, or, if you will, the cross.

Contemporary engravings reproduce this scene from photographs. But it appears that the sport of cycling, as a result of the well-known accident which put a grievous end to the Passion race and which was brought up to date almost on its anniversary by the similar accident of Count Zborowski on the Turbie slope -- the sport of cycling was for a time prohibited by state ordinance. That explains why the illustrated magazines, in reproducing this celebrated scene, show bicycles of a rather imaginary design. They confuse the machine's cross frame with that other cross, the straight handlebar. They represent Jesus with his hands spread on the handlebars, and it is worth mentioning in this connection that Jesus rode lying flat on his back in order to reduce his air resistance.

Note also that the frame or cross was made of wood, just as wheels are to this day.

A few people have insinuated falsely that Jesus's machine was a draisienne, an unlikely mount for a hill-climbing contest. According to the old cyclophile hagiographers, St. Briget, St. Gregory of Tours, and St. Irene, the cross was equipped with a device which they name suppendaneum. There is no need to be a great scholar to translate this as 'pedal'.

Lipsius, Justinian, Bosius, and Erycius Puteanus describe another accessory which one still finds, according to Cornelius Curtius in 1643, on Japanese crosses; a protuberance of leather or wood on the shaft which the rider sits astride -- manifestly the seat or saddle.

This general description, furthermore, suits the definition of a bicycle current among the Chinese: "A little mule which is led by the ears and urged along by showering it with kicks."

We shall abridge the story of the race itself, for it has been narrated in detail by specialized works and illustrated by sculpture and painting visible in monuments built to house such art.

There are fourteen turns in the difficult Golgotha course. Jesus took his first spill at the third turn. His mother, who was in the stands, became alarmed.

His excellent trainer, Simon the Cyrenian, who but for the thorn accident would have been riding out in front to cut the wind, carried the machine.

Jesus, though carrying nothing, perspired heavily. It is not certain whether a female spectator wiped his brown, but we know that Veronica, a girl reporter, got a good shot of him with her Kodak.

The second spill came at the seventh turn on some slippery pavement. Jesus went down for the third time at the eleventh turn, skidding on a rail.

The Israelite demi-mondaines waved their handkerchiefs at the eighth.

The deplorable accident familiar to us all took place at the twelfth turn. Jesus was in a dead heat at the time with the thieves. We know that he continued the race airborne -- but that is another story.


back to (the play)



preparation drawing; (first sketches..some more)


la passion



other Alfred Jarry project

use a bicyle

theater piece (the play)

See also ÉTANT DONNÉ - street version ... and ÉTANT DONNÉ - Bicycle Machine version for Halfinger (alpine horses)

Duchamp's ÉTANT DONNÉS revisited through the eyes of Alfred Jarry