Postface: ‘Fountain’ and ‘Free Form’

by Tony Rickaby

These stories are from a series which could be seen as an unknown art history. They describe an imaginary meeting, in a specific place at a specific time, between an important artist (in the sense of being crucial to the development of modern art) and an unknown ‘passer-by.’ The meeting has a crucial, though completely fabricated, influence on the artist’s creative development, and thus on the history of 20th century art.

Accompanying the story is a description of a real event that occurs at the same time, and in the same city, as the meeting between the artist and the passer-by. The event is an example of a revolt against oppression and contrasts an essentially communal and material struggle in society with the artist’s essentially individual and conceptual struggle in the more ‘unreal’ context of fine art.

The third section describes a simple action performed by either the artist or the passer-by. The performer’s identity remains equivocal because the action is the only one in the story not prescribed by class or occupation. It is included to provide an area of neutrality, a neutrality only possible because the act is private and physical.

The photographs are of the artist, the unknown person and someone who played a key role in the political event.

Tony Rickaby studied at Portsmouth College of Art and St. Martin’s School of Art, and then worked with the Archigram architecture group and the Light/Sound Workshop group. His textual works, dealing with the relationship between art, popular culture and politics, appeared in such exhibitions as Art For Society and Art From the British Left, as well as in such publications as Kontexts, Schmuck, Second Aeon, Tracks and Vile and in his own books. His installations and paintings, usually dealing with such issues as ideological and political power and urban survival, were shown throughout Europe and the US, including solo exhibitions at Franklin Furnace and Printed Matter in New York, at Central Space and the Standpoint Gallery in London and Colette in Paris.

Recently he has produced works specifically for the web, for such sites as Drunken Boat, Locus Novus, London Poetry Systems, Otoliths, Streecake and Suss. His current work concerns reflections on the1940s and on observations of particular parts of London.