In 2004, a urinal was voted the most influential work ever in modern art. Famed artist and provocateur Marcel Duchamp claimed to have created “Fountain”—or rather, he bought the mass-produced product and signed it—but according to some, it is the lesser-known, flamboyant Dadaist artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven who should take credit for transforming this much-discussed porcelain “piss pot” into art.
Filmmaker Barbara Visser has delved into the absurd history of the iconic work, of which it is uncertain whether the original still exists. The absurdity is heightened by the fact that Visser regularly intervenes in the film to chat with the designer, giving instructions to change fonts or to zoom in on photos.
Alreadymade is a search for the truth behind “Fountain,” a reflection on what makes art into art, and at the same time an attempt to bring Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven to life. Using the little archive footage of her that exists, and with the help of a German actress and modern technology, the fascinating bohemian is brought out of the margins of art history.
Selected for Signed at IDFA 2023