Representations and experiences of society, sexuality and gender in contemporary Spanish art.

Nobody can escape the fact that Txaro Fontalba has a peculiar fondness for the world of Marcel Duchamp, or rather, for one of the Duchampian worlds: that of the most famous urinal of the millions there must be in the world. The urinal, taken out of its context and turned into a fountain (although it always was one, albeit inverted) featured in every magazine of modern and contemporary art. A urinal revisited by Robert Gober, although at first, few people undestood why, and which Txaro Fontalba transform , cross-dresses, deforms, dismast until she turns this utensil of the private male world into a ridiculed and beautified contrivance. Without the foul small of the pissoirs, Txaro Fontalba seeks external resemblances, in her Rostro-útero [Faces uterus] (1996), for example, upsetting a place of drainage and swamp in the face of that sacred organ in which motherhood dwells, which Fontalba desecrates.

Having made of the object trouvé a sculptural space (and also, a posteriori, photographic) for invention, Fontalba resorts to irony (Autorretrato con barba) [Self-portrait with beard], 1994) to turn herself into a being with hollow features and a false beard like some drag-king. And this idea of combaning male features with female ones apparently led her to superimpose feminised objects (flowers, vagina) on the interior of an excretoy vessel, the urinal in the pieces entitled La educación sentimental [Sentimental Educación].

This urinal obsession has recently given way to another series of works analysing anorexia. The majority of anorexia sufferers are women, a fact which is no coincidence. Txaro Fontalba, with restraint and containment, turns the representation of the anorexis woman into pure mathematics, into calculation, until she dehumanises and de-bodies the female reality. Is anorexia the body´s antidote to the design made of it? Is this not at heart an unsatisfactory victory? A death in life?


Transgenéric@s. Representaciones y experiencias sobre la sociedad, la sexualidad y los géneros en el arte contemporáneo. Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea. San Sebastián. 1999