Malibu Discusses the Gesture Duchampian Fountains Can Make
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 03-02-11

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In celebration of Malibu City, CA's March 28th anniversary, local councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich recalled Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917), a simple white porcelain urinal signed R. Mutt, when she nominated a community art project in which 20 recycled urinals, toilet seats, and sinks from the Malibu library would be transformed into art worthy of display in City Hall. However, proposal's reception thus far has been less than enthusiastic. The city council hopes that an arts event could supply the much-needed boost to Malibu's public image, and it is in this regard that many find fault with the porcelain-plan. Councilmember Lou La Monte in particular has voiced his concerns that art composed from used lavatories would be met with laughter, as Duchamp's piece often is, and only tarnish the city's fragile reputation.

In defense of her proposition, Conley Ulich explained that sewage had been integral to Malibu's establishment just 20 years ago: the city became incorporated in order to prevent existing sewage systems from interfering with community growth. Porcelain fixtures would be additionally relevant in that proceeds from the project would supply funding for the construction of a local water treatment plant. A definitive vote has yet to be held, but other community art events have been proposed as alternatives. Despite this and the embarrassment some members expressed during discussion, Conley Ulich insists that her "commodes" could uniquely help heal the city and do what Marcel Duchamp [did] in his seminal piece of the Dada movement.

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