In 1973, Alfred Aebersold won a competition held by Zurich’s water supply department for the design of a fountain to serve as the prototype for 80 identical fountains to be installed all over the city. They were to be the visible part of a large separate and secure water supply system. The backdrop to this competition was the Cold War and the invisible but ever-present threat of contamination of the public water supply by outside agents. Aebersold, who was trained in interior design and had set up a studio called Gruppe 3 with Jörg Hamburger and Herbert Merz in 1961, was representative of a school of Swiss design influenced by the visual idiom of Max Bill. Although designed in the 1970s, his fountain is a bit of an historical paradox, recalling the formal vocabulary of modernist sculpture in its organic form and sturdy, reassuring solidity. But it is also a permanent conspicuous sign in public space of the enduring need to protect public safety. The context may change, but the threat remains. The fountain’s raison d'ętre is masked by the functionality of its bowels – in keeping with Duchamp’s modus operandi of masking and varying the meaning that may be assigned to forms – as it perpetually spouts forth its pure, unadulterated liquid.
Photographs and layout by Sophie Nys
Text by Leila Peacock
Published in 2017
17 x 24 cm
ISBN: 978-2-93066-716-4EAN: 9782930667164