Divided we stand, together we fall

Sophie Nys

This artist’s book presents a set of photographs made by Belgian artist Sophie Nys during her stay in Zurich. It features each of the modernist fountains produced by designer Alfred Aebersold in the 1970s and scattered throughout the Swiss city. The images are associated with amusing and clever captions written by Leila Peacock, a Scottish artist living in Zurich.

In 1973, Alfred Aebersold won the competition organized by the Water Supply Department of Zurich for the design of a fountain. It was to be the visible part of a vast, autonomous and secured water supply system of 89 identical fountains distributed throughout the territory of the city. The context was that of the cold war. The threat, invisible but permanent, was the contamination of the public water supply network by an external agent. Aebersold—trained as an interior designer and founder, together with Jörg Hamburger and Herbert Merz, of studio Gruppe 3 in 1961—was representative of a Swiss design that followed the formal vocabulary of Max Bill. Bill contributed from the 1940s onward to the dissemination of ways of living and Western values to question those of Soviet ideology. Designed in the 1970s but recalling through its formal vocabulary a modernist, stable, and reassuring sculptural language expressed in the organicity and solidity of its forms, this fountain presents itself as a historical paradox of sorts. But it also presents itself as a visual symptom, set within the public space, of a necessity for a continued, ahistorical defense. The context changes, but the threat remains. And the fountain, masking its purpose in the functionality of its bowels—according to a Duchampian modus operandi, in which the sense one could assign to forms is obscured and diverted—, tirelessly spurts the purity of its liquid.

这本艺术家的书展示了比利时艺术家Sophie Nys在苏黎世逗留期间拍摄的一组照片。它展示了设计师Alfred Aebersold在20世纪70年代制作的每一个现代主义喷泉,这些喷泉散布在这个瑞士城市。这些图片与居住在苏黎世的苏格兰艺术家Leila Peacock撰写的有趣和聪明的标题有关。

1973年,阿尔弗雷德-艾伯索德在苏黎世供水部门组织的喷泉设计竞赛中获胜。它将成为一个巨大的、自主的、安全的供水系统的可见部分,该系统有89个相同的喷泉,分布在城市的各个角落。当时的背景是冷战时期。威胁是无形的,但却是永久性的,是公共供水网络受到外部因素的污染。艾伯索德曾接受过室内设计师的培训,并于1961年与约尔格-汉堡尔和赫伯特-梅尔茨一起创建了Gruppe 3工作室,他是瑞士设计的代表,遵循马克斯-比尔的形式语汇。比尔从20世纪40年代起就为传播生活方式和西方价值观以质疑苏联的意识形态做出了贡献。该喷泉设计于20世纪70年代,但通过其形式语汇回顾了现代主义的、稳定的、令人放心的雕塑语言,表现在其形式的有机性和稳固性上,该喷泉呈现出某种历史的矛盾。但它也是一个视觉症状,设置在公共空间中,显示了持续的、非历史性的防御的必要性。背景改变了,但威胁仍然存在。喷泉在它的肠道功能中掩盖了它的目的—根据杜尚普的操作方式,人们可以赋予形式的意义被掩盖和转移—不知疲倦地喷出它的纯洁液体。