“For the past six months, probably influenced by recent politics, while washing up we’ve often imagined how it would be to disappear in the kitchen sink,” says Kirsten and Ernst, the founders of MacGuffin magazine. “What’s down there? What’s on its way? An earring that was accidentally washed away, a lost contact lens, a stray nymph?”
The kitchen sink is the topic for the most recent issue of MacGuffin, a publication whose ability to concentrate upon “The Life of Things” allows readers to learn about everyday objects and appreciate their history, use, and multifaceted functions which often make them invisible. This issue follows previous editions on the bed and the rope, and while the kitchen sink may seem the most obscure, this issue encompasses MacGuffin’s aim to dissect an object in a truly innovative way.
A combination of references sparked Kirsten and Ernst fascination with the kitchen sink. The first is Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a book “about a city built entirely as a forest of pipes that end in taps, showers, spouts, overflows,” and the second was a film “that the plumber showed us after a blockage of our kitchen sink”. “Our interest in the sink was aroused, not only for the patina of the traditional terrazzo sink or the gloss of the perfectly rounded sink, but also and perhaps above all for the infrastructure that ends in an invsible city under our kitchen sink.”
Below, MacGuffin’s editors take us through some of the standout features of their third issue.
British Kitchen Sink Drama by Eliot Haworth
It is so interesting that kitchen sinks play a mayor role in British culture, from art to theatre to movies. Eliot described how the sink was the backdrop for a socially engaged, very British phenomenon. It explains a chunk of British Culture, we think. And apart from that, we love the kitchen sink painters like Bratby – largely neglected by contemporary art history, but a real and intense mirror of their times.
A photoessay by Scheltens & Abbenes on Inox Sinks
We’ve wanted to work with Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes for a long time, but couldn’t find the occasion. We totally dig their immaculate treatment of everyday life objects. Still life porn ;-). This was a subject they immediately related to: unglamorous and ordinary sinks, that they were able to present in an extraordinary and intriguing way.
As an independent magazine, we can’t afford the tariffs and production fees of more mainstream features, so Maurice and Liesbet drove to DIY markets to buy Inox sinks, and returned them a week later. We’re always very happy if our contributors are happy as well; Scheltens & Abbenes liked the series so much they want to use them for an exhibition in Tokyo, where the photos will be presented on a big, life size scale. And we were very happy we had a good cover the moment we first saw their pictures. It’s not always easy to find a good cover…
For a Radical Sink, you need a Radical House. One without plumbing, for example, or with a “disposable” interior. Sinks have always played a major role in architecture: in a way, the way they are treated in architecture is a symbol of the thoughts on living and housing.
Like the Bulthaup Kitchen typ 1 (1970), a minimalistic kitchen that presented the housewife as a captain on the microwave bridge: “Die Hausfrau ist Kapitän in der Bulthaup-Küche”. The office-like design speculated that the “kitchen of the day after tomorrow” was all about efficiency and warming up instant meals. No more old-school cooking or dishwashing in 2000, it suggested.
A plumber photo series by photography duo, Otto Kaan
Otto Kaan are a young, Dutch photography duo that used their (not too big) fee to hire seven different plumbers to fix their sink problems: Sami, Dennis, Dave, Nick, Moor, Ismael, Danny: Fix My Sink.
Peter Halley’s Cells & Conduits
A biographical story I [Kirsten] wrote on Halley’s paintings of sewers and my personal connection to them (they were the first thing I saw on my first visit to the US as a student). They’re bright and magnificent pictures of cells and conduits from the 80s that are still relevant today. And that is precisely why the Halley paintings are still relevant 30 years later. Painted at a time when display screens were not yet ubiquitous, they depict the uneasy combination of isolation and interconnectedness in our digitally dominated existence.
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