Gold toilet art installation takes a shit on America and you can take a shit on it
If you like art that’s as literal as can be, then you will adore Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan’s fully functional gold toilet sculpture at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The toilet, titled “America,” is a fully working, 18-carat gold interactive installation, so you can actually flush whatever you want to down America and everyone will think it’s very civilized. I mean, it’s art. No, really — the museum on Fifth Avenue replaced a regular porcelain toilet in one of its unisex bathrooms, so for a limited time only, you can go to the bathroom on a gold toilet.
The lines and security to use the bathroom will be a little out of hand. Nancy Spector, a curator from the Brooklyn Museum who has worked with Cattelan to bring the work over, told NPR that their sculpture conservator has done studies on the 18- carat gold material and it will be cleaned with steam and special wipes. The cleaning schedule will be the same as all of the Guggenheim bathrooms.
According to the Guggenheim, the toilet is all about “making available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent” and allowing people to have an “intimate” experience with art. Catttelan’s piece is also “a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all.”
Cattelan is from Milan and is known for sculptures that start conversations. He’s most well known for the La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour) which is a sculpture of Pope John Paul II being hit by a meteor. This one’s a little cruder, but less provocative.
It’s open to many interpretations — starting with the connection to Marcel Duchamp’s 1977 The Fountain, which you could not touch, access in the art world, opulence, even Donald Trump, Cattelan said in a blog post for the Guggenheim. But really it’s up to you. “I’m not the one who has the right to say [what it’s about],” Cattelan said.
I for one feel like 2016 has been a giant toilet, so the title seems fitting.