Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Duchamp updated

April 30, 2008 - 10:32pm -- Carol Diehl

If anyone ever wanted proof that art is useful, here it is. Apparently this little fly, etched into the porcelain of the urinals at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, improves aim and thereby reduces spillage by 80%. More here. The choice of image is brilliant, the perfect target. Who, besides Albert Schweitzer, has ever looked at a fly without wanting to hit it?

And since we're on the subject, I'll share this poem. Written by a student for my Senior Seminar at Chicago's Columbia College where I did a term-long stint as a visiting artist in 2004, it's an ode to Duchamp's Fountain:

R. Mutt 1917
Commemoration of the family pet, perhaps?
This drain profane
on its back like an insect
Monsieur Duchamp detours
and shows us its other face.
The sensual curves of this prosaic pot
suggestive of the lowly bedpan
It is no throne, for there is no place to sit.
Vitreous porcelain
Taken for granted until celebrated
Public, yet removed and indestructible
We join at the communal well
to cleanse, to linger, to dream.
Baptism’s sacred font
to purify the sins of the masculine
He is reborn, revived, renewed
Flushing, gushing fluid
Springs forth the liquid
from one fountain to another
Man makes his way, and voids himself of a night’s refreshment.

--Carole Cantrell

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, as photographed by Alfred Steiglitz in 1917.


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