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Marcel and the waterless fountain
von Thomas Wagner | 3/22/2011

It swishes and gurgles, flows and bubbles, burbles and rushes, through flexible hoses and high-grade pipes, into tubs and basins, across expanses and into confined closets. Water wherever you look, wonderland, too, on the fair booths and somewhere next to them. Now and then a humming bird adorns a WC, or the bosom of a busty Bavarian waitress adorns a toilet seat lid, or da Vinci's Renaissance man. There seems to be nothing that is not crazy enough to be on offer. Even towel dispensers are now being equipped with multimedia displays to make certain you don't miss a commercial while drying your hands or hear what management has to say in time. Meaning that sadly one of the last places that used to be uncluttered by ads has been forfeited.

Washbasins and wash stands are now available in just about any inconceivable shape and size, exquisite or common, as a basin on a table or as bathroom furniture complete with cabinet underneath (to fit any style), on a standalone column, or wall-mounted with a shell to hide the ugly up and down pipes. In white or black porcelain, with decorated glass or enameled sheet metal. And henceforth also in the middle of the room, as high-grade wash-tops, the technology hidden away in the quality cabinet below.

Everything will be fine in this water wonderland: The hand dryer runs as high speed but saves energy nevertheless, Marat would at long last find a standalone tub to drape his arm over, and for our toilet brushes and soap dispensers we can now choose between "Romantic", "Manor house", "Classic" and "Modern" versions; only the showerhead in my hand for some reason does not resemble a phone receiver. The second, as large as a ceiling light, then pours sweet summer rain over our dry everyday lives and soaped-up heads, depending on what we want with or without a nimbus of blue, red or colored LEDs. Only once in a while might we ask, concerned: Holy Water. Where is the sanitary spirit heading who once hovered over us? No worries. Redemption is at hand. How could we forget that all of this of course happens with less water consumption, better design and sustainable technology. After all, we want to "experience water in an unforgettable manner", as long as we still can.

Other measures are needed to get rid of it afterwards. Not only drains, down-pipes and fine outlets recessed into the floor. Never for almost one hundred years ago when the great Marcel Duchamp turned the common urinal by American sanitation suppliers into a "fountain" and thus revolutionized 20th-century art, has the place where men in need headed before required so little water. No more fountains! Today, the flush requires no water! And the casing comes in so many shapes and colors that Richard Mutt, Duchamp's alter ego, would probably not know today which to select. After all, what the Swiss-made "Urimat" stands out for applies everywhere: "Every drop counts!" What would have become of art in general and Duchamps' readymade in particular given such thriftiness, had it existed in 1917, does not bear contemplating. Nor does the idea that a urinal can be a "completely public solution". Author and playwright Botho Strauß once said, politics was a pissing contest in public. Perhaps the object in question is a political readymade?

In order not to compromise anyone, let's stick with the core values of the faucets and bask in the sensuality of all the ceramic discs inside the mixing batteries and in the mountains of red sealing washers. Above all, however, let us savor the most beautiful word of the wonderworld of water on our tongues, wet by the finest of beverages: Perlator. Let it pearl, you merchants of enjoyment!

Urinal "Architec" by Duravit, photo: Thomas Wagner
Urinal by Roca, photo: Thomas Wagner
Urinal "Urimat"
Towel dispensers with commercials
Toilet seat lid with da Vinci’s Renaissance man
showerhead with colored LEDs
Fontaine Replica of Marcel Duchamp. Musee Maillol, Paris, France. photo: Micha L. Rieser
Urinal "Architec" by Duravit, photo: Thomas Wagner
Urinal "Urimat"
"Senza Aqua" by Luigi Colani for S+K Energie, Schweiz
Towel dispensers with commercials