connection is real, thus D is an intersection. The connection between S, S’ and G is functional: it is linked to the actual use of urinals. The connection is symbolic, thus lines are sued to connect S and S’ to G. Questions instead of an introduction The reader is probably wondering: who the hell is Gober? And immediately after this he probably thought: What do Duchamp’s and Gober’s urinals have in common with Lost & found? Why do urinals represent problematic objects in the art field? Could they be replaced by other objects.
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE MYTH What I always found interesting with Duchamp, apart from the selection of the urinal as an industrial readymade, is the sophisticated way in which he decided to present the readymade Fountain (1917), even though he most likely merely intuitively followed the events. It is not merely the fact that Fountain is, as a readymade, an interesting starting point for considering the nature of the work; it also reflects the artistic and production work as well as the role of art and its value. These starting points emerged from the broader controversies of the avant-garde movements in Europe and were known to Duchamp from his knowledge of cubism, surrealism and dada, even though they might never have been as sharp in the works themselves as they were in the various predecessors of the ready-mades, e.g.. papier colles (1912/13) by Picasso and Braque. In this period Duchamp wondered whether it was possible to create works of art that were not works of art. The present formal starting points were not directly linked to Steiner
and his ideology of the decentralised ego.1 The Fountain and other readymades from the period Duchamp spent in America indicate that he held an interest in readymade objects belonging to the national environment in which he found himself. This can be ascribed to Duchamp recognising merely those objects from the life in cosmopolitan America that on one hand differed from the Parisian, and on the other was overly emphasised and caricatured by the producers. Thus, one of the first readymades, In advance of the broken arm (1915), was created from Duchamp’s enthusiasm for the shovel for shovelling snow, a product that he had not seen in France. It was roughly when he created this work that Duchamp thought of naming the works readymade, he considered using everyday objects, renaming them and placing them outside of their function, thus redefining them in a new way – this choice should not be conditioned by the visual pleasure but based on the connection between the aesthetic neutrality and the total lack of good or bad taste.2 If we were to expose the tactile reading of the Fountain and other readymades this would be – due to Duchamp’s intention to change the visual that raises pleasure with the intellectual – on one side blurred, and on the other (on the level of the form) overly banal. Not in the historical view or in 1 Steiner’s ideology influenced Duchamp’s commitment for changing the ego/artist and the coincidence of the artwork. The indivisibility and leaving certain things to coincidence, especially in the interpretation that was never challenged by Duchamp, consequentially influenced the fact that the readymades were so open to the numerous possible interpretations as regards the status of the artwork. 2 According to Duchamp ready-mades are visually undefined objects which have the intention of escaping the artist’s touch as well as the idea of good or bad taste. 103