Toledo’s Foulest Fountain

Public art is meant to challenge the mind. I get that. I’m only too aware that I know NOTHING about art, so I’m usually reluctant to shoot my mouth off about it. But sometimes a piece foisted upon the unsuspecting public is just too horrendous to pass up comment. So, please, indulge me, just for a minute. Tugging at the shackles of my ignorance, let me rail against the indiscriminate artistic littering of sacred places, so that I might feel better afterwards. Or not.

Here it goes:

This year, Toledo got a new fountain. Or, rather, I should say fountain. It was conceived by the (I gather, renowned) artist Cristina Iglesias. I’m not planning to diss her, I’ve seen some of her other works and liked them. She’s clearly thought deeply about this project, which actually consists of three pieces (“tres aguas” – three waters), one of which is this wretched runnel I’m about to show you.

It is supposed to represent the changing flow patterns of the river Tagus, which circles the city. According to the project’s website, the installation is meant to give the impression of an “an ancient aquifer or subterranean channel that had recently been unearthed”.

As intriguing as it sounds, as a concept, it’s not just that the end result is ugly as sin, but it also happens to be in the most conspicuous of places: Smack bang outside the town hall, and 20 metres from one of Spain’s most magnificent cathedrals. We’re talking about the hallowed heart of aย  medieval city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited by thousands of tourists every day, who’ve come to enjoy Toledo’s stunning beauty and thousands of years of history.

And they don’t know what to make of it. I don’t blame them. Actually, standing by Crappy Creek and listening to people’s bafflement is my new favourite sport. “What is it?”, “Is it broken?”, “What’s it going to be when it’s finished…?” “How disgusting!”

Fountain

No, it won’t get any better, I’m afraid…

Fountain close-up

The bed is made of steel, and, as you can see, with all that sun, heat and trickling shallow water, it’s the perfect breeding ground for algal sludge. And God knows what else…

Fountain 3

He’s got the right idea. Just keep walking… don’t stop and look!!!

Teenagers at the fountain

There’s no better place for contemplating Spains 60% youth unemployment.

Fountain 5

Fountain 4

Sufficiently depressing to make you want to commit suicide, but not deep enough.

OK, you get the idea. There is no flattering angle that can make this glorified sewer look like a piece of fine art congruous with an historic town centre. And I took these shots on a couple of good days, because there’s usually empty drinks bottles and soggy paper napkins floating in it.

BTW, it’s not the only eyesore Toledo has to offer. There is also THIS, but, luckily, it’s a bit too far out of the way to traumatise innocent tourists:

[If you would like to see some pretty snaps of Toledo, take a look at this post by fellow blogger Jenna, who visited me a couple of months ago.]

 

59 thoughts on “Toledo’s Foulest Fountain

    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Well, seeps out periodically, and as you can see in the pics, the level in the ‘canal’ part is different on all of them. But that’s how it is, it doesn’t ever fill up completely. At least I’ve not seen it like that.

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Not you, not anyone. I heard (though I cannot verify this), that they spent a whopping โ‚ฌ800.000 on the three installations. In the middle of an economic crisis…! Apparently, it was mostly “private” funds. Still… it’s bloody outrageous.

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  1. linnetmoss

    I have no scruples when it comes to shooting my mouth off about art. If this thing was installed inside the sterile confines of MoMA, people might think it was great. But as a piece of civic art, it’s all wrong. It doesn’t fit the surroundings. And it’s too big. And as Linda said, FUGLY. It works better as a metaphor for despair and unemployment than as a subterranean aquifer. I much prefer the giant bear shite!

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      LOL! Nicely put! I don’t think it’s complete shite either, but it’s all wrong in this setting.

      As for the bear poo… sigh. Maybe perched atop a rebel roach coach advertising mutant sausages….

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  2. NancyTex

    THAT’S a fountain? Wow.

    You may have inspired me to share a photo of a fountain I spied in Lake Tahoe two years ago. It was quite interesting. In the most pornographic way.

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Well, now you’ve made me think… this thing does look a bit like a lady’s nethers, doesn’t it…? In a 1970’s wild & rampant kind of a way.

      Anyway, whatever you post, it can’t possibly be any worse, so go for it ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. NancyTex

        Oh, don’t think of it as worse, think of it as inspired. ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps for my next Wordless Wednesday. ๐Ÿ™‚
        p.s. Now you’ve made me nostalgic for ’70s bush.

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      2. NancyTex

        Old news. I already had an in depth conversation with Linda about it several months ago when she pondered why there was so much pee all over the toilets in Riga. I explained that when you wax or laser it all off, and then hover to pee (like I do in nature, whilst hiking), the result is a wild spray. I guess the hair actually serves a purpose after all: it directs your pee. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. tobyo

    ugh, that’s disgusting! it looks like a sewer as you say. perhaps there will be enough public outcry and they’ll remove it? btw, weren’t you moving to Madrid this summer?

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  4. Kim in Fiji

    Well, I certainly liked your prose better than the photos – but I wonder: has the sculptor spoken about the piece on display? Was this her vision, or did the execution not match the vision? I don’t know much, but I generally like sculptures – this does not even seem like a sculpture to me. I expect some height, not a carved out depression. Did she really have no elevated parts to go with it? Is it finished already?

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  5. Giovannoni Claudine

    About “art”: is also my opinion that this type of “art” is not enjoyable to the eye! Especially if inserted, as you observe, in a city recorded in the UNESCO list. Even if art is something “subjective”, provocative artistic expression that disturbs the vision, should be exposed outside similar contexts.
    About littering: it’s really depressing how carelessness and rudeness of the people can badly influence… But even more depressing that the government and its representatives do nothing to change things … Singapore is an example for many cities/countries: they give you hefty fines if only to throw a chewing gum on the ground!

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  6. heatherinde

    Eww. Just, eww.

    And, as someone who took an absurd number of Art History classes (as part of my comprehensive Art major), I don’t “get” most modern art. Sorry, I’m a philistine. I love Monet, I love Van Gogh, I love all the artists that are considered “cliche” by the art scene… but you know what? At least they’re freakin’ pretty to look at.

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  7. joanne sisco

    I’m with you … that is one very ugly piece of water works. The best part however is that this fountain proves you and Nancy Tex can make anything very funny … not to mention bordering on pornographic. Now I’m going to have the image of a beaver fountain in my head indefinitely ๐Ÿ˜€

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