The fountain Fontänen

2021–2024
Lund
Sweden

A research project funded by Formas (a Swedish research council for sustainable development) as part of Gestaltad livsmiljö – arkitektur, form, design, konst och kulturarv i offentlig miljö (Designed living environment – architecture, form, design, art and cultural heritage in public spaces).

The project is a partnership between HDK-Valand Academy of Art & Design at the University of Gothenburg and Lund University.

Project leader: Maddie Leach
Colleagues: Lars-Henrik Ståhl & Mick Wilson
Supported by: Skissernas Museum / Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art

Project abstract

LTH-fontänen (The LTH Fountain) was the collaborative vision of Swedish architect Klas Anshelm and sculptor Arne Jones. Inaugurated in 1970 at Lund Technical University, it was anticipated as a modern “artistic-technological cathedral of steel, glass and water without parallel in the world”. Yet LTH-fontänen proved frustrating as a fountain: leaking, fracturing and never effectively carrying water. Today it remains inert on campus; neither artwork nor ruin.

At what point can a public artwork be revitalised and thought anew? What are the implications for authorship, cultural heritage and public consultation? Are there similarities to monuments, where societal change can produce an ethical dilemma around their visibility and duration? Our research initiates a recommitment to a substantially state-funded public artwork after a 25-year hiatus and introduces new questions–not about how to get this fountain to work as a fountain–about whether LTH-fontänen offers an armature from which a new public artwork can emerge.

We plan to generate an artistic proposal, a written contract and a public symposium to engage societal debate regarding authorship, artistic originality and the capacity to reimagine a public artwork. Our aim is that our research be applied, not only remain a conceptual proposition; that it can demonstrate a sustainable approach to issues of duration and change in the design of public spaces, and the role of art works within them.

The fountain Fontänen

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