Saâdane Afif

The Fountain Archives - Grid FA0288(...) FA0337

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Unique work

Fountain, the most controversial artwork in modern art history, didn’t exist for a very long time. Rejected at the Salon des artistes indépendants in 1917, it disappeared the same year, after being shown during a short time at Alfred Stieglitz’ gallery. In fact, the original artwork has become famous thanks to the photographic reproduction Alfred Stieglitz made before its disappearance. It’s this same image that was used to make the ten replicas under Marcel Duchamp’s supervision, between 1950 and 1964.

“No one has ever looked at art. Make artworks that are supposed to be directly reproduced into magazines. As far as we know artworks thanks to their reproductions, we should only conceive artworks for reproduction. Remove the intermediaries in art.” (John Baldessari, Art conceptuel, une entologie, under the direction of Gauthier Herrmann, Fabrice Reymond and Fabien Vallos, éditions MIX, 2008)

This « reminder » formulated by John Baldessari appears to be absolutely pertinent in regards to the posterity of Marcel Duchamp urinal, which, despite its disappearance, has become one of art history most important masterworks.

It is not by chance that Saâdane Afif decided in 2008 to make Fountain the suject of a very special collection – a collection of all the publications in which the famous ready-made has been reproduced. The Fountain Archives consist thus of a multitude of torn pages on which appears the reproduction of Fountain, each framed individually. Because of the repetition of this motive, the complete series becomes a new artwork on its own, of a contemporary view on how art history and myths of art are created.

It has been nine years ago since Saâdane Afif started the process of The Fountain Archives. The artist continues to supply his collection during his travels, his research on the internet, thanks to a series of websites that list all the books in the world. A network of experts and collectors have brought over the years a significant contribution by suggesting or sending rare publications, and local or vintage editions. Progressively, the collection will be extended each time with new findings.

The artist gladly calls The Fountain Archives a “hobby artwork”, but it requests however an unfailing attention. Today the archive counts almost 850 entries and strives to attain 1001 in order to be complete. Just like the famous collection of tales, the corpus must be read as a legend gathering one thousand and one histories relating the Fountain work.

Grid containing 9 framed documents
Size of the grid: 150 x 120 cm
Each frame is placed precisely in the centre of its cell.
Unique work
Certificate numbered and signed by the artist