Michael Asher’s understated drinking fountain sculpture on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus was recently destroyed by a masked vandal, but officials at the school plan to rebuild it.
“We hope to have the fountain reinstalled in the next few months,” Mary Beebe, the director of UCSD’s Stuart Collection — a collection of site-specific contemporary art commissioned for the campus that includes works by Kiki Smith, Barbara Kruger, and Do Ho Suh — told Hyperallergic via email. “The restoration will be exact to the millimeter. We have all the original plans and the blessing of the UCSD administration as well as the blessing of the Michael Asher Foundation for this work.”
The untitled sculpture, created by the late conceptual artist in 1991, was a replica in polished granite of the type of generic office water fountains found in Camp Matthews, the military base that occupied the site of UCSD until 1964. Asher’s fountain, located near the school’s Chancellors Complex and student center, was installed alongside more conventional monuments to the site’s former military role — a stone memorial and a large US flag. “The fountain connects with these two other elements,” Beebe added.
On January 5, a man wielding a sledgehammer completely destroyed Asher’s sculpture and a number of security cameras, while also spray painting messages on school buildings, causing some $18,000 in damage. Though a $1,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the suspect’s arrest, he remains at large.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.