Emma Panini

The Buddha of the Bathroom, the Baroness and Other Stories

The Dada Queen on liquid creativity


Suck / Lip / Quaff / Breath / Squallashed / Skin's / Taste / Let / Me.


Baroness Elas Von Freytag -

This short poem can give you an hint of the explosive personality of the Baroness
Freytag-Loringhoven. This lady was the living expression of DADA culture, ‘ Body Sweats’ is the first major collection of 150 brilliant poems and it was published almost 100 years after her arrival in the city of New York.
Her ready mades were quite similar to the anti-art and defamiliariazing poetic of the much more famous ‘Fountain’ by Duchamp, a man who “came to this country--protected--carried by fame--to use his plumbing fixtures--mechanical comforts’’ using the words of the Baroness.
Some recent researchers are attributing her even the credits of the piece, because of a mysterious letter and stylistics reasons.
Around the artistic icon of 20th century there are many stories and we should spend more time to dive in the crazy atmosphere that lead to the creation of the piece instead of questioning its authorship.
A plumber made it but the artist chose it. Maybe it’s serious, maybe it’s joking. Perhaps both?
Also because Louise Norton, a friend of Duchamp and the Baroness, wrote an article ( The Buddha of the Bathroom ) to defend it , the Richard Mutt case became famous: ‘ The Jurors fairly rushed to remove the sculpture because the object was irrevocably associated in their atavistic minds with a certain natural function of a secretive sort’ she wrote.
Doesn’t matter, with some imagination this decadent plumber’s fountain resembles a lovely Buddha, the curves of the legs of a lady, an ornament from a baroque fountain...
In her defense the urinal is a product of human imagination, and it’s because of this reason that it should be elevated as a work of art.
The creator itself, R.Mutt, is both a man and a woman, and the title ‘Fountain’ opens the interpretation to any kind of liquid substances. What we don’t have to forget are the unstoppable streams of human creativity that give shape to certain events that become art works.
The Baroness, with her erotic poetry, was describing those processes as fluid body matter, inviting the reader to celebrate and participate in the making/unmaking of the meaning.
The Dada Queen started a revolution that inspired the artistic and intellectual movement in America of the early 20th century, and it was mainly based on free expression of the aspects of every day life, a celebration of its smells, tastes and performances of the body: urine, shit, spit, sweat, sperm.
Duchamp defined her as ‘The Future’, in fact her poetry took an hundred years to overcome censorship laws.