America’s weirdest art installation is the Guggenheim’s working gold toilet
You know how some people jokingly refer to the toilet as “the throne”? Well, the Guggenheim in New York City has a solid gold toilet now on display that, honestly, might not make a bad real-life throne. Italian artist Mauirizio Cattelan crafted the fully-functional latrine. About 100 pounds of 18-karat gold make up the luxurious loo. According to Gothamist, with “gold… currently going for $1,316.60 per ounce… [that] would put the cost… somewhere between $1,474,592 and $2,527,872.”
Oh, and have I mentioned the name of the installation? It’s called… “America”. Because of course, it is. Cattelan claims its a statement on democracy (because everyone poops?) but it’s hard not to read deeper into that. It seems like Cattelan is no stranger to making biting, satirical pieces. For example, in 2001, he erected a full-sized Hollywood Sign over the largest rubbish tip in Palermo, Sicily. From The Guggenheim:
Like all of Cattelan’s most complex works, this sculpture is laden with possible meanings. There is the art-historical trajectory, from Duchamp and Manzoni to more contemporary artists like John Miller and Wim Delvoye, that traffics in scatological iconography. The equation between excrement and art has long been mined by neo-Marxist thinkers who question the relationship between labor and value. Expanding upon this economic perspective, there is also the ever-increasing divide in our country between the wealthy and the poor that threatens the very stability of our culture. Cattelan explicitly comments on this fact by creating what he called “one-percent art for the ninety-nine percent.” The gold toilet—a cipher for the excesses of affluence—has been available for all to use in the privacy of one of the Guggenheim’s single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms.
Who knew toilets were so deep? I’m almost about to have an existential crisis over here.
Using a solid gold toilet
The toilet is on display in a private, one-person bathroom. And yes, the point is to use it. Intrigued by the commode but wary of public bathrooms? Fear not. The Guggenheim staff wipe the gold toilet down every 15 minutes and steam clean it periodically. Since it was installed in 2016, over 100,000 people have… done their business all over “America”. You will be able to see it (and use it! eek!) at the Guggenheim until September 15th, 2017.
Think about it; this is probably your only chance to get to use a solid gold toilet. Maybe you’ll leave with dreams of owning your own some day. Maybe you’ll realize that your butt can’t tell the difference between a potty made of precious metals or porcelain. Either way, you’ll leave a changed person. And with a lighter bladder.
More weirdness to discover…