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 a 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!”
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.]