At Lisa Cooley, Fiona Connor Makes a Fountain that Moves on From Duchamp

THE DAILY PIC: A new riff on the readymade – plumbing that works.


THE DAILY PIC (#1346): I’m not sure if she meant it this way – surely she must have? – but Fiona Connor’s On What Remains, Part One, installed in the rear space of Lisa Cooley gallery in New York, reads as the latest smart reworking of Duchamp’s original Fountain.

Whereas the Master’s 1917 urinal took a deluxe bathroom fixture (it wasn’t the abject object people have claimed) and turned it into non-functioning, un-plumbed art, Connor started with a much distressed water fountain from nearby Tompkins Square Park and then reproduced it, complete with plumbing, in a gallery setting. Despite its humble look, Connor’s piece isn’t a readymade: she didn’t grab an object in the real world and simply present it, by fiat, as art. Her laborious reproduction is closer to a high-realist representation or even trompe-l’oeil; she’s called it “a one-to-one drawing.” Which means it’s less about art and its games than about the original object that it is taking such pains to reveal to us.

Connor’s press release explains that the park’s concrete fountain was designed way back in 1939 – its bold lines are Art Deco, not Brutalist, conceived among the Lefty ideals of the New Deal. Ever since, it’s been generously offering water to the changing denizens of the Lower East Side, from Jewish immigrants to Latinos, from protesters to druggies and muggers to, now, the baby-and-iPad set – the very people who stroll among the new galleries of the yupified neighborhood.

Connor has condensed all that history and meaning into a single object. The object dishes it out again, sip by sip.

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