‘Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.’- Guggenheim Museum
Friday, September 16, 2016
Get ready for a royal flush.
Starting Friday, an Italian artist with a sense of toilet humor will let visitors at the Guggenheim Museum relieve themselves in his new work — a solid 18-karat gold potty he has titled “America.”
“Whatever you eat, a $200 lunch or a $2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise,” Maurizio Cattelan told The New Yorker.
The poopy piece, the museum says, represents “the American dream of opportunity for all.”
The working toilet is installed in a tiny unisex rest room on the fourth floor. Anyone who pays the price of admission can use it, and a guard stands sentry outside.
“You should call it ‘Guggen-head,’ ” Cattelan tells the museum’s blogger Caitlin Dover, who notes how the work is a stinky but much-needed breath of fresh air for art lovers typically forced to abide by the “don’t touch” rule.
“Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art,” the museum says.
Asked how he felt about the public resting their rumps on the golden throne, Cattelan said, “It will be a test of the piece.”
According to the museum, “America” invokes “the American dream of opportunity for all — its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity.”
While he refused to reveal what it cost, Cattelan, 55, said the potty was intended to be “ ‘1 percent’ art for the 99 percent.”
The artist, who came out of a five-year retirement for the piece, draws a link between the work and the rise of Donald Trump, known for accenting his residences with gold.
“It was probably in the air,” Cattelan said.
The parallel was not lost on museumgoers Thursday.
“Wow, pissing in an 18-karat gold toilet at the Guggenheim. Sounds like Donald Trump’s dream,” said Ken Klinger, a 34-year-old teacher from the Upper West Side.
When it comes to cleaning the work, plain old Lysol just won’t do.
“Someone from our regular cleaning staff will come by every 15 minutes,” said Nathan Otterson, a senior conservator. “And they’ll use special wipes, like medical wipes, that don’t have any fragrance or color or oxidizers.
“And we have a steam cleaner that we’ll use periodically. The color is going to change, and we’ll probably be brightening the toilet up with polish along the way.”
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner