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Outdoor beach toilet points to the art of the past and the future

PUBLISHED: 16:52 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:52 22 February 2017

Peace War (Pissoir) on Aldeburgh beach is a tribute to Duchamp's 1917 urinal (Fountain) - voted the most influential work of art of all time in 2004. 'Peace War' stands on the 52 degree 'peace latitude' towards The Hague.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Peace War (Pissoir) on Aldeburgh beach is a tribute to Duchamp's 1917 urinal (Fountain) - voted the most influential work of art of all time in 2004. 'Peace War' stands on the 52 degree 'peace latitude' towards The Hague. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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It may seem potty, but a Suffolk beach is being used to celebrate one of the twentieth-century’s most iconic works of art.

Gallery owner Caroline Wiseman with Peace War (Pissoir) on Aldeburgh beach is a tribute to Duchamp's 1917 urinal (Fountain) - voted the most influential work of art of all time in 2004. 'Peace War' stands on the 52 degree 'peace latitude' towards The Hague.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Gallery owner Caroline Wiseman with Peace War (Pissoir) on Aldeburgh beach is a tribute to Duchamp's 1917 urinal (Fountain) - voted the most influential work of art of all time in 2004. 'Peace War' stands on the 52 degree 'peace latitude' towards The Hague. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A century ago, French conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp caused a stink by signing a mass-produced urinal with the pseudonym ‘R. Mutt’ and putting it on display.

Fast forward 100 years to an exhibition exploring the future legacy of Duchamp’s Fountain at the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout – known for its unusual art exploits.

In 2011, Mark Fuller buried his head in the shingle and stomped along the seafront with beer cans on his feet; in 2013, Declan Jenkins painted people green and invited them to roll around on a huge canvas, and in 2015, sculptors and composers combined to plant mesh trees on the shore and play music on a solar powered piano.

Owner Caroline Wiseman said: “When Duchamp presented his urinal for exhibition it caused quite a furore and became one of history’s most influential works.

Lookout gallery owner at Aldeburgh, Caroline Wiseman. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Lookout gallery owner at Aldeburgh, Caroline Wiseman. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We’ll be hosting a year-long discussion about the future legacy of Duchamp’s work, while inviting people to create their own responses for exhibition.

“We want people to respond to the question: ‘what is art?’ and explain where it can go.

“Duchamp was making a controversial statement about the ‘idea’ being important. For him, the opinion of the ‘posthumous spectator’ was most important. Posterity is now 100 years later.

“He gave freedom to artists and was mindful of the viewer.

Peace War (Pissoir) on Aldeburgh beach is a tribute to Duchamp's 1917 urinal (Fountain) - voted the most influential work of art of all time in 2004. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Peace War (Pissoir) on Aldeburgh beach is a tribute to Duchamp's 1917 urinal (Fountain) - voted the most influential work of art of all time in 2004. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It led to some wonderful art but, for the last 50 years, we have seen an era of postmodernism with less emotion. It would be wonderful to see more emotion return to art especially during a period of so many serious things happening around us.

“The challenge is to assimilate the progress of the last century and move art forwards in ways which have the power to bond and unite humanity.”

In the spirit of Duchamp’s love of puns, the outdoor convenience has been dubbed ‘Peace War’ (or ‘pissoir’). It stands on the 52-degree ‘peace latitude’, pointing towards The Hague, which brands itself as the Legal Capital of the World and International City of Peace and Justice.

The exhibition includes reproductions of Duchamp work, including his Boite-en-valise and his etching After Ingres.

Part of the exhibition celebrating Duchamp at Aldeburgh Lookout. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Part of the exhibition celebrating Duchamp at Aldeburgh Lookout. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

To participate, email caroline@carolinewiseman.com. ‘Peace War’ is on display periodically, including this Saturday.

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