Press Release

Fountains control the movement and cycle of water. We are surrounded by mundane structures that move water, often hidden from sight: pumps, pipes and sewage systems. By contrast, a fountain is visible and exuberant: it can stimulate, delight, and stir the erotic. In this exhibition, the fountain becomes a space to transform dreams and desires into a dripping, spattering, sparkling form.



International exhibitions

International ongoing exhibitions

The Fountain Show

De Garage, Mechelen (Belgium)

12.05 - 25.08.2024




Fountains have given people pleasure since ancient times, across civilisations and cultures. The Ancient Romans venerated water and delighted in its appearance and its movement through an unseen power. The Persian rulers of the Middle Ages built elaborate fountains in their palaces and gardens to represent paradise as described in the Qu’ran. King Louis XIV of France employed fountains at Versailles as a visual representation of his dominance over nature. In the 19th century, fountains became part of civic infrastructures, providing clean drinking water to urban populations and thereby becoming important meeting places—akin to the contemporary cliché of the office water cooler where news and gossip is spread. Today, fountains mostly serve a decorative purpose, but remain in public spaces and private gardens.

The Fountain Show looks at the fountain as an artistic object. In 1917, Marcel Duchamp created the most famous “fountain” in Western art history, the readymade urinal (1917). The work, simply titled Fountain, played with the art historical symbolism of the decorative fountain and overturned previous ideas of what makes art. The works gathered in this exhibition stand in a long line of fountains that have been depicted or designed by artists and asks what the fountain stands for today.

With works by David Bernstein, Aline Bouvy, Anita Esfandiari, Kasia Fudakowski, Lou Masduraud, Sophie Nys, Chloé Op de Beeck, Virginia Overton, Paula Siebra, Jay Tan and Zoe Williams. Curated by Brenda Guesnet.

The Fountain Talks: Saturday, June 1 from 10am–4pm. Cultuurcentrum Mechelen, Minderbroedersgang 5, 2800 Mechelen

A programme of talks around the fountain. This cross-disciplinary discursive programme looks at the wide ramifications and implications of the fountain, with topics ranging from the sexual reproduction of slugs, urban sewage, and Parisian urinals to Marcel Duchamp, art in public space and the contemporary art system at large. Together we interrogate the meaning of the fountain today and its continued relevance.

Speakers: Anna Tilroe, Leila Peacock, Thomas A P van Leeuwen, Thierry de Duve, Aline Bouvy. With a guided tour through the exhibition by Brenda Guesnet.

The Kunsthal Mechelen team: Anne Van de Voorde, Anny Huyghe, Evangelina Habarurema, Jessica Meuleman, Nacho Vargas, Lars Van Vlasselaer, Sarina Bongaerts, Teresa Malundama and coordinator Steven Op de Beeck

With the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Hotel De 3 Paardekens and the City of Mechelen.

Exhibition 12 May - 25 August 2024. Kunsthal Mechelen, De Garage, Onder-den-Toren 12A - 2800 Mechelen (Belgium). Hours: Thursday–Sunday 1–6pm.





The Fountain Show, De Garage, Mechelen (Belgium)

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2024 All Rights Reserved

Lou Masduraud, Fontaines (I-VIII) (detail), 2023. Copper oxidized with pickles slices, oyster pearls, marble, tuffo. Courtesy of the artist and Kunstraum Riehen. Photo: Gina Folly.

Lou Masduraud, Fontaines (I-VIII) (detail), 2023. Copper oxidized with pickles slices, oyster pearls, marble, tuffo. Courtesy of the artist and Kunstraum Riehen. Photo: Gina Folly.