It is a matter of some debate as to whether the students who spawned fixturism knew what they were doing – whether, when they came back from that assignment to photograph sculpture with pictures of, well, fixtures, they were making a deliberate statement, or playing a joke, or whether, in fact, they were just idiots who went to a real train station instead of the repurposed underground gallery they were send to. But that is an entirely academic matter now.
At the time, street art was all the rage, and so it wasn’t long before faucets started sprouting coat-hooks and bus seats suddenly grew light-switches. But with time, like all forms of art, it evolved towards subtlety – until the only real distinction between a fixturist installation and a real fixture was one of function – you could tell the work of art from the fact that it didn’t work; some installations went unnoticed for years. Then there are those who say that some fixturists went even further; becoming accredited plumbers, or builders, and installing functional fixturist pieces – indistinguishable from the real thing – while dedicating their lives to their cover professions, keeping their true artistic natures to themselves, becoming, in essence, their own living fixturist installations. This raises all sorts of tricky questions about the nature of art, none of which need be our chief concern.
The lasting impact of fixturism is a vast collection of doors that lead nowhere. Some consider them frustrating inconveniences; a scourge on society and their daily commute, to others they are idiot pranks by people with too much time on their hands, or whimsical delights that break up the drab urban landscape, inspiring a sense of childlike wonder.
And to some they are poignant and painful metaphors for their own lives.