European projects for young artists. Praga 1996.

The first «ready-made» object by Marcel Duchamp- a urinal signed R. Mutt – is undoubtedly, one of the crucial keys to the understanding of the 20 th century art to such an extend that is allows art historians to use the term «art after Duchamp». The urinal, the leading work fo contemporary art, does not differ from a urinal we can find in a toilet, it is as it is, and yet, looking at it now, one cannot help noticing the mythological aura of an ancient masterpiece he has produced. One has to admit that it was this single object which established the new vision of art in our century. The aura of the ready-made urinal does not  in the least resemble the one which surrounds Gioconda, but it was actually this ready-made, a clear image of a urinal, an icon of contemporary art, that Txaro Fontalba has chosen as the «key-word» of her work.

In her work on a silk-screen print series called «Sentimental Education«, Txaro incorporated two overlapping negatives of Duchamp´s urinal. The image created in this way, surprisingly enough, closely resembles an anatomical figure of female genitals. Two overlapping urinals are nothing else but a piece o female body. This apparently manifold situation inspired the artist to new undertaking: she printed the image of two urinals on men´s shorts and made them the subject of many photographs. The original urinal is no longer recognizable in the pictures of men wearing shorts with female genitals imprinted on them. The surprising experiment conducted by Txaro Fontalba seems to question the usual discourse around the artistic urinal as it replaces, in a simple gesture, male element with the female onel

The same gesture, which one could call a cosmetic multiplication of masks and veils, takes place when the artist employs the actual urinals to create self-portraits. Let us not forget that it was Marcel Duchamp himself who painted a moustache and a beard on Gioconda´s portrait. Txaro repeats Duchamp´s gesture, sticking moustache to a urinal, but she gives it a feminist touch at the same time. This linkage of an object serving physiological needs of men and a human image is a gesture of criticism which, on its surface, bears a mark of sophisticated aesthetism.

Andrzej Przywara.

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