Fountain-sculptures Les Lacs by Marta Pan in Brest, rue de Siam, 1989, Brest Municipal Archives.

This photograph shows the fountains created by Marta Pan (1923-2008), a Hungarian-born artist who settled in France. The fountains are located in the widest stretch of the rue de Siam, which was originally crossed by a perpendicular axis at the exact spot that Mathon depicted in his drawing in 1948.

These fountains were commissioned by Brest city council in the 1980s. They are only a fragment of the work that was meant to cover an area from the Place de la Liberté to the Penfeld, based on the theme of water, taken as a metaphor for urban memory, resurfacing in various places. This project was never fully completed and only these seven fountains called ‘Les Lacs’ were installed. These geometric structures of polished black granite express Marta Pan’s abstract vocabulary and the idea that universal art forms can slip seamlessly into a reconstructed city.

However, the arrival of these structures provoked fierce controversy. To this day, the people of Brest have a mixed relationship with these fountains, sometimes they are admired, sometimes hated. Their presence in the urban space stems from a desire to fill the gaps generated by Mathon’s town planning both literally and figuratively.

Sonia de Puineuf