A Golden Opportunity at the Guggenheim Museum

You can even add some gold liquid of your own to the exhibit.

Michael Sheridan
Features and List Co-Editor

If I had to guess I would say that you, the reader, are probably not a big fan of The Donald. Yet, despite your totally ra­tional opinion of our current President, on some deep subconscious level. I’m sure you also at one point wondered what it would be like to live in a golden tower. Well, you can now live out your fantasy at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

 

goldtoilet
What happens in the Trump Toilet stays in the Trump Toilet.

 

The artist Maurizio Cattelan has in­stalled a solid gold toilet in the fifth floor bathroom of the museum. Titled America, the piece is described as a “fully functional replica cast in 18-kar­at gold.” But perhaps the best part of this installation is that everyday visi­tors are allowed and encouraged to use the toilet in any way they see fit. Visitors are allowed a maximum of 15 minutes in the bathroom and can go in alone or with others and whatever hap­pens in the bathroom stays in the bath­room. While a guard is always on duty outside the bathroom, no one watches what you do or how you interact with the piece. Simply put, for those 15 min­utes, a toilet worth millions is yours and yours alone. Many visitors scoff at the sign, thinking the artwork is a waste of time, but then these same people try to peek inside the bathroom when the door is open. However, the toilet is tucked away inside the space, so the only way to truly see it is to wait in line and have your alone time with the art­work.

The artist came out of re­tirement to specifically make this piece and this piece alone, but has remained silent on its significance. There seems to be a large divide. Many take an opti­mistic approach and see this work as a symbol of the American dream. As the toilet is accessible to anyone, so is the ability to succeed and truly make it in this country. Others find it an example of the extreme excess of the art world and the rich in general. As the artwork is titled America, the country is depict­ed as a land of excess, where the rich feel the need to own gold toilets instead of putting their money to better uses. Still, a third interpre­tation finds the work to be one of unifica­tion. No mat­ter if you are using a solid gold toilet or a hole in the ground, all of humanity shares the need to use the bathroom. The artist may have in­tended for all of these interpretations to be the meaning, or something else entirely, but who knew a toilet could cause so much discussion and debate.

The other works on display at the Guggenheim are equally worth view­ing as well. The show Tales of Our Time highlights the work of Chinese artists across various mediums including pho­tography, film, and even a giant ma­chine.

The new show in the famous rotun­da space, called Visionaries: Creat­ing a Modern Guggenheim, includes works from the permanent collection divided into six sections based on the six founding collectors of the museum. Masterpieces by Kokoschka, Picasso, Mondrian, and Calder are all on display as part of this show.

If you do go to the Guggenheim, I highly recommend taking the time to visit the fifth floor bathroom to use or at least view America as it is truly a unique experience unlike anything any of us are likely to get another opportu­nity to have. Admission is $18 for stu­dents or pay what you wish on Saturday from 5:45-7:45 PM.

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