SFAI Fountain, 2017 · Planks, 2017 · Sign, 2017

Resin structure covered by ceramic tiles, artificial plants, acid-etched brass, tombak cast with the text of an Allen Ginsberg poem, waterworks
Sign, 2017, tombak cast of a page of an Allen Ginsberg poem, water
& Planks, 2017, acid-etched brass, water

The starting point for the installation as a whole was a press photo from the year 1946 documenting the accident that killed Farmer’s grandfather. He and his small transporter collided with a train and were buried under the cargo of 72 wooden planks.

A central element of the installation in Venice is a tiled fountain with a water jet that spouts at irregular intervals, on which 72 seemingly wooden planks are distributed and are, in part, scattered around in the pavilion and lean against the walls. Upon closer examination, one notices that water leaks from these planks. So that the water system could be installed inside the beams, they had to be hollow and produced in metal, but were simultaneously supposed to look like wood. Based on the number and dimensions depicted in the press photo of the accident, wooden planks were cut to size and sanded so that the grain became a relief. The “printing blocks” created in this way were stained with tar and printed onto the previously welded together, hollow brass battens, which had already been provided with holes for the outflow of water. Each beam was then placed in a hydrochloric acid bath, thus causing the unprinted areas to be etched in. The coloring of the wooden planks was finally imitated in addition by means of patination. The water is pumped out of the interior by means of water hoses and a complex, synchronized steering system that links all the objects exhibited.

Based on the model of a fountain at his alma mater, the San Francisco Art Institute, the artist replicated the tiled fountain himself using artificial resin and ceramic tiles. This work also includes a bronze cast of an enlarged page from an Allen Ginsberg publication, from which the title of the entire pavilion installation, A Way Out of Mirror, also originates. The writer was a central figure for Farmer while he was studying in San Francisco.