“I’m happy because it’s not on a pedestal, it’s not in a gallery...”
September 16, 2016 7:00 AM   Subscribe

[A] fully functional, solid 18-karat-gold copy of a Kohler toilet [titled "America"] ... was installed in the humble restroom on the fifth-floor ramp of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum late last week and will be open for business to anyone with the urge on Friday.
posted by griphus (92 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
The juxtaposition with the previous post is a great summary of the missions of these two institutions. MoMA sort of sees itself as a steward of 20th c. art and design, and Guggenheim is all HEY LOOK SHINY SHINY
posted by phooky at 7:09 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


My first thought is that unless they have cameras pointed at this thing (which would add a whole new dimension to this artwork) somebody is going to try to smuggle out a piece of it. 18-karat gold is soft enough that it wouldn't be hard to break off a decent chunk and stick it in your pocket.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:10 AM on September 16, 2016 [22 favorites]


I really, really want to take a dump in that.

Is it all gold? Like, are the insides gold too? The flapper, and the, uh, other thingy? I want to know.

I'll give it a week before some joker does an upper decker in it.
posted by bondcliff at 7:11 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


Gold doesn't evaporate at room temperature, but I think this toilet will.
posted by ethansr at 7:11 AM on September 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


I suppose the little room is the R Mutt Hall.
posted by notyou at 7:12 AM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Big deal. Trump has, like, five of these in his penthouse. Because it's classy.
posted by briank at 7:13 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


A fully functional gold toilet entitled "America" is the quintessential "obnoxious guy from your freshman dorm who thinks he's much smarter than he actually is" art piece.
posted by saladin at 7:16 AM on September 16, 2016 [48 favorites]


bondcliff, this appears to be using a tankless design as you frequently do see in public restrooms. Which got me curious, so I looked up how tankless toilets work but for the short version, there is no upper deck to worry about.
posted by RobotHero at 7:18 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the secret executive washroom of the Guggenheim Foundation, the long-missing original "Fountain" by Marcel Duchamp, restored to full functionality, has stood silently for decades.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:19 AM on September 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


bondcliff, this appears to be using a tankless design as you frequently do see in public restrooms.

Which is completely obvious from the picture, but I was just so excited about the idea of doing an upper decker in a solid gold toilet that I ignored the fact there was no tank.

I guess, technically, there is still an upper deck.
posted by bondcliff at 7:20 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, I'm not terribly impressed by it as a work of art, but I'd still try it out for novelty purposes.

On the other, I have a strict policy when it comes to NYC public washrooms -- By Necessity Only. Novelty use? Not even you, Guggenheim. Not even you.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:21 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


On the plus side, I had never really considered how tankless toilets work, (Higher water pressure!) so I learned something new today.
posted by RobotHero at 7:22 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, how is this not going to be scraped away and stolen in a week's time?
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:27 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


A fully functional gold toilet entitled "America" is the quintessential "obnoxious guy from your freshman dorm who thinks he's much smarter than he actually is" art piece.

The obnoxious guy tells you about his plans for it in between bong hits. The True Artist installs it in one of the most prominent museums in the world and lets you take a shit in it for the price of admission.
posted by griphus at 7:28 AM on September 16, 2016 [24 favorites]


Well, if there's ever a second coming and Jesus is in NYC, he could retitle this "Christ Piss."
posted by chavenet at 7:28 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


Did someone let Austin Power's know that it IS in the cards now.
posted by Twain Device at 7:29 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Regardless of whether someone steals a piece of it, it's going to get dented pretty quickly. That's malleable stuff, someone kicks it or hits it with an elbow a few times and soon it's not going to look so pristine.
posted by Melismata at 7:29 AM on September 16, 2016


What is the line for this toilet going to be like?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:30 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Gold doesn't evaporate at room temperature, but I think this toilet will.

The Rothco Commando Wire Saw is $4.75 on Amazon.

The generic is only $3.00.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:31 AM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


This is the kind of art that really makes one think. How on earth are they going to clean it?
posted by stowaway at 7:34 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Rothco Commando Wire Saw is $4.75 on Amazon.

The Rothko Commando Wire Saw is only $1.50, but it's just a drawing of a fishing pole with too many hooks on it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:36 AM on September 16, 2016 [24 favorites]


Seriously though, how is this not going to be scraped away and stolen in a week's time?

Maybe it's actually a piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
posted by beerperson at 7:37 AM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Trump would love one, I am sure, but I doubt he's got the liquidity.

This reminds me, I was listening to a song with the line "solid gold Cadillac" the other day, and I wondered: how solid could a solid gold car actually be before it melted on the highway? How much could that possibly cost? **pause for Google** At least $7.5 million, apparently, for whatever loathsome POS turned up for the auction in Dubai.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:37 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have more details about how it's built? My first instinct is that gold is too heavy/expensive for this to be all gold.

I have no idea if I'll get this right, but I'll try to calculate it! This says a normal ceramic Kohler is 87.5 lbs, and this says that ceramic is 2000 kg/m^3. So assuming this is all ceramic, that 87.5 lbs (38.9 kg) corresponds to 0.019.5 m^3, or 19.5 liters. 19.5 liters of 18 karat gold would weigh 329550 grams, or 727 lbs. Actually, I think I was wrong... I'm sure the floor could support something that heavy, it's only as heavy as these alligators. But it would be expensive! It'd cost $10 million for the gold. I just did this off the top of my head, though (many years out of freshman chemistry) - anybody want to check my math?
posted by Buckt at 7:39 AM on September 16, 2016 [12 favorites]


Ugh, torn. I'd want to use this just because, and also feel it's a little obscene. A gold toilet waiting to be shat on for (comparatively) rich people's kicks. (Is that the point? Does this make me a prole? Prolly.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:41 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for Triumph's review of this particular piece.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:44 AM on September 16, 2016


But it would be expensive! It'd cost $10 million for the gold. I just did this off the top of my head, though (many years out of freshman chemistry) - anybody want to check my math?

Or he could just be lying to us. It is Art, after all; there's no polygraph.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:45 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am so going to piss in this thing. I'm irritated that this wasn't in place last year when I peed in the fifth floor bathroom at the guggenheim.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:47 AM on September 16, 2016


I'm really bothered by the design of the room it's in. A curved wall, so close to the toilet, that's just fascinatingly weird. And where's the magazine rack? They should use that for toilet paper and the piece "Ameria's media".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Gold doesn't evaporate at room temperature, but I think this toilet will.
The Rothco Commando Wire Saw is $4.75 on Amazon.
The generic is only $3.00.


Too noisy, I'd think. Could you heat it enough to quietly slice a chunk off?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:47 AM on September 16, 2016


A gold toilet waiting to be shat on for (comparatively) rich people's kicks.

The Guggenheim is free to get into for two hours on Saturdays, so rich or poor, everyone can take a turn.
posted by griphus at 7:48 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


A fully functional gold toilet entitled "America" is the quintessential "obnoxious guy from your freshman dorm who thinks he's much smarter than he actually is" art piece.

Utterly unsurprised that the artist is Italian.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:49 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


So many scriptwriters just opened a new "heist movie" file on their MacBook. So many.
posted by straight at 7:49 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


The Guggenheim is free to get into for two hours on Saturdays, so rich or poor, everyone can take a turn.

But what if there's a line?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:50 AM on September 16, 2016


Maybe Roger will drop by [NSFWish "American Dad" running joke]
posted by chavenet at 7:50 AM on September 16, 2016


Golden toilet of Maurizio, there can be no john like thee...
posted by uncleozzy at 7:50 AM on September 16, 2016


It'll probably turn out to be performance art, with a scale hidden under the toilet giving readings on how much lighter the thing gets as the visitors take care of their assorted business.
posted by Mooski at 7:51 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Could you heat it enough to quietly slice a chunk off?

The tool for this job is a wide chisel, and you just use the palm of your hand to gently pound out a nice gold shaving. Quiet.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:52 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because the article makes this entirely too difficult to find out: It appears that the bathroom in question is unisex and single occupancy.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:53 AM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


It'll probably turn out to be performance art, with a scale hidden under the toilet giving readings on how much lighter the thing gets as the visitors take care of their assorted business.

ur pooping wrong
posted by beerperson at 7:54 AM on September 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


It'll probably turn out to be performance art, with a scale hidden under the toilet giving readings on how much lighter the thing gets as the visitors take care of their assorted business.

also a giant boulder rolls out of the ceiling at them
posted by indubitable at 7:54 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


oh nooooo gold doesn't decay so future civilizations aren't gonna realize this was just a doofy art piece and they're totally gonna be like "this is how FUCKED UP 21st century america was! They shat in gold all the time!" the same way everyone misuses the word vomitorium now
posted by Greg Nog at 7:55 AM on September 16, 2016 [20 favorites]


this is how FUCKED UP 21st century america was

i mean
posted by beerperson at 7:56 AM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


Seems like a perfect opportunity to crack open a can of Manzoni's shit.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:57 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


It appears that the bathroom in question is unisex and single occupancy.

Pretty sure it just became the sex fantasy bathroom, so the single occupancy rule is going down the tubes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


Michael Zall, the museum’s associate director of facilities operations, said that a trusted plumber hooked it up, “with some butterflies in his stomach.” He added: “If he was ever a regular plumber, he’s not anymore.”

Worth noting that the artist is named, the director of facilities is named, and the plumber is not named.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:57 AM on September 16, 2016 [31 favorites]


The Guggenheim is free to get into for two hours on Saturdays, so rich or poor, everyone can take a turn.

I know, but poor in the US is still pretty well-off, on a global scale of comparison.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:00 AM on September 16, 2016


I now desperately want to see the turn of the century silent short where a rich society man in morning dress and spats and shit gets mad at a plumber trying to install his solid gold toilet
posted by griphus at 8:00 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Seems like a perfect opportunity to crack open a can of Manzoni's shit.

I didn't realize someone had actually opened one.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:01 AM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


That shit is GOLD!
posted by Kabanos at 8:04 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


fully functional, solid 18-karat-gold copy of a Kohler toilet

No matching shower?
posted by jonmc at 8:07 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Guggenheim is free to get into for two hours on Saturdays

FFwd a few weeks: I predict a contact born disease that gets dubbed "Gold Throne rash"
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:07 AM on September 16, 2016


I love that when somebody finally had the guts to crack open one of those cans, they just found a smaller can inside, also labeled "Artist's Shit." Nice one, Manzoni.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:12 AM on September 16, 2016 [14 favorites]


Compare to Micheal Heizer who's building his magnum opus out of "rocks, sand, and concrete that Heizer has mined and mixed on site." He explains:
Incans, Olmecs, Aztecs—their finest works of art were all pillaged, razed, broken apart, and their gold was melted down. When they come out here to fuck my ‘City’ sculpture up, they’ll realize it takes more energy to wreck it than it’s worth.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:18 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Buckt: "I have no idea if I'll get this right, but I'll try to calculate it! This says a normal ceramic Kohler ..."

Probably constructed like a stainless toilet rather than cast like a ceramic one. That would explain the time needed to make it because otherwise you could just cast it using the same forms as regular toilets.
posted by Mitheral at 8:19 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dammit I was in that bathroom (I think. Definitely a fifth floor unisex single-occupancy one at the Guggenheim) like two weeks ago!
posted by Navelgazer at 8:24 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


still amazing that the status quo is to shit and urinate in our drinking water. 2nd most precious and important resource(After air) and we soil it. gold or not, that's crazy.
that said, i like usable art.
posted by danjo at 8:24 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am wondering if the cleaning crew gets special gold cleaner or just tosses regular old bleach down there. (Is there special gold loo cleaner? Seems like a niche market, but possibly there is some artisanal crafter mixing a special blend of Vim out there.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:24 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Unless the room is well-warmed, a solid-ANY-metal toilet has got to be a cold, cold surprise to your butt....
posted by easily confused at 8:26 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'd just reach down and pop the bolt cap on the corner-facing side of the base off while I was sitting on it.

Disappointed there isn't a rhodium feminine hygiene receptacle.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:34 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Unless the room is well-warmed, a solid-ANY-metal toilet has got to be a cold, cold surprise to your butt....

Especially this one. The thermal diffusivity of gold is ten times that of steel and a thousand times that of plastic.
posted by Mapes at 8:34 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unless the room is well-warmed, a solid-ANY-metal toilet has got to be a cold, cold surprise to your butt....

hey come on, spoiler alert
posted by griphus at 8:36 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


What you call impracticalities, the artist calls metaphors. America, man.
posted by cardboard at 8:36 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Worth noting that the artist is named, the director of facilities is named, and the plumber is not named.

Not sure what you're implying but it's possible he didn't want to be named.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Art imitates life? Sort of?

From 2007, Hong Kong gold toilet (YT)

Wall Street Journal (2008): A Palace of Gold Is Sold Off For Its Melt Value, but Not the Throne

That WSJ story was published in July 2008.

Several months later... Golden Toilet Creator Dies; Gold Goes Missing
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:02 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: a cold, cold surprise to your butt.
posted by bongo_x at 9:26 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Curved wall, doesn't look handicapped accessible.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:32 AM on September 16, 2016


"Trump would love one, I am sure, but I doubt he's got the liquidity."

Hey, now. Trump's stream is wide and healthy. The best stream. Many people are saying it. They've heard him go into urinals and there is no problems with liquidity there.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:48 AM on September 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


I once went to a Yoko Ono retrospective and one of the pieces (can't find a reference, so I'm not sure it was a Yoko) was a toilet within a glass wall maze. I turned to my internet date and commented about the possibility of someone walking into the piece and taking a dump in the toilet. It was just a poop joke at the time, but now I realize I was just ahead of my time.
posted by rhizome at 9:55 AM on September 16, 2016


“with some butterflies in his stomach.” He added: “If he was ever a regular plumber, he’s not anymore.”

HAHAAHHAHAHA....

Now i need to find something to clean this cereal off my keyboard...
posted by Hicksu at 10:10 AM on September 16, 2016


Ok, I guess I'll be the one to say it, there's no way that toilet is really solid gold. What did it for me is the flush valve. I've installed plenty of toilets in my years as a plumbing apprentice, including tankless commercial toilets like this. That flush valve is made up of multiple small parts held with nuts and gaskets in such a way that there's no way those components could be made of solid gold. Gold nuts would strip, the entire thing could probably be bent away from the wall with minimal strength, and it would never withstand the 45-90psi of the water main coming in. The flush valve is obviously gold plated because there's simply no other way. Since they plated the flush valve, why not plate the rest of it too? So I'm not buying it.

The plastic cap over the closet bolts holding it to the floor is a giveaway too. I doubt a gold cap would even sit correctly since the design requires some elasticity to pop into place. If just the porcelain and seat were gold I'd buy it, but the little details that an artist would decide are important are exactly what makes it hard to swallow for someone familiar with how toilets are installed.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:18 AM on September 16, 2016 [16 favorites]


there's no way that toilet is really solid gold.

That's got to be part of the art, right? Because I just can't believe it either. The functionality for one, and the theft factor for another.
posted by bongo_x at 10:56 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


If just the porcelain and seat were gold I'd buy it, but the little details that an artist would decide are important are exactly what makes it hard to swallow for someone familiar with how toilets are installed.

You sit on a throne of lies, Mr. Cattelan!
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Bloom County.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:58 AM on September 16, 2016


RE: solidness of toilet. I assumed when they said solid gold toilet they weren't including the flush valve and associated hardware. Though I'm not totally convinced they couldn't be gold. Depending on the alloy 18 karat gold has similar hardness to brass and a higher tensile strength.
posted by Mitheral at 12:56 PM on September 16, 2016


Meh. Mamie Eisenhower-era pink toilets are prettier, and the supermirrory bathroom at Veniero's is still way better for narcissistic masturbation.

So much sound and fury.
posted by sonascope at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2016


The field reports are coming in: On the throne: what it's like to use the Guggenheim's solid gold toilet
posted by zachlipton at 2:07 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


There has been some internal discussion over imposing a time limit on golden toilet visits, he said, with people potentially being limited to five minutes per visit.
fascism
posted by griphus at 2:32 PM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I imagine Brian Eno is already planning a followup to his earlier piece of performance art.
posted by Candleman at 4:00 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


18K gold is soft for a metal, but not nearly as soft as 24K and "for a metal" means that if it is thick it is still pretty strong. I have an 18K wedding band that is a nice thick casting weighing about half an ounce; the band is about half a millimeter thick. After ten years of being worn and bashed around in a lot of industrial environments it is still perfectly round and not visibly dented. The finish will scratch if it is abused, but that can be repolished easily. If parts like the seat are really solid then cutting off a chunk is a much more difficult proposition than some people seem to think. You would need major power tools and some time.

I tend to doubt that parts like the flush valve workings are gold; they don't have to be to make the point. It is the seat and the bowl itself that are the major players here, the parts that kiss your ass and accept your shit. It is that those are made of precious metal normally reserved for wedding rings that is the artist's point. The rest of it is just hardware and decoration and, of course, code worthy sanitation.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:04 PM on September 16, 2016


I misread part of the previous comment as "It is that those are made of precious metal normally reserved for wedding rings on the artist's planet." That too, I suppose.
posted by limeonaire at 5:20 PM on September 16, 2016


fascism
In a press release the Guggenheim linked the golden toilet to Donald Trump’s business and political career.
posted by zachlipton at 5:21 PM on September 16, 2016


HAHA I dunno for sure limeonaire but I think the artist's planet is actually Earth.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:22 PM on September 16, 2016


If it was a Trump toilet there would be a golden fence around it, and a receipt proving that Mexico paid for it.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:23 PM on September 16, 2016


Another update: A Steady Stream Uses the Guggenheim Museum’s Golden Toilet Bowl

Apparently, the line is long, the guard checks on the toilet after every visitor, one guy got inside and realized he didn't have to go anymore, and predictably:
The softness of gold has led to concerns about vandalism. People on social media have already been bragging about plans to deface the artwork, said Trevor Tyrrell, associate director of visitor services. That is “not necessarily something we’re thrilled about.”
posted by zachlipton at 7:06 PM on September 16, 2016


HAHA I dunno for sure limeonaire but I think the artist's planet is actually Earth.

Whoever he is, he has the Midas tush.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:38 PM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


Is it protected by some supersecret anti-theft device? Otherwise the next Tom Cruise movie plot just wrote itself...
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:57 AM on September 17, 2016


A security guard checks it after every use? Do you get in trouble for not leaving the lid in the proper position?

Like Buckt above, I was wondering about the weight, which was only mentioned in passing in the original story. Even 700+ pounds seems light to me.
posted by TedW at 5:32 AM on September 17, 2016


Midas tush.

Thread closed. We're done here.
posted by Etrigan at 6:32 AM on September 17, 2016


OK, the weight thing has been bugging me all morning. None of the news articles seem to mention it specifically (although it was interesting seeing how different outlets presented it; the New York Post: The Guggenheim wants you to crap all over 'America'). I tried my hand at figuring it out, doing it a little differently from Buckt. Here is a Kohler commercial toilet (without seat or flush valve) weighing in at 64 lbs. This site gives specific gravities of various ceramics ranging from 1.6-25.5. I used the middle value for porcelain of 2.3, which seems pretty typical for most of the other types of ceramic. I wonder if the 25.5 number is a typo, because it is both very much an outlier and incredibly heavy. Here is a list of specific gravities of various metals including gold and gold alloys (h/t Archimedes!) I used 18k yellow gold at 15.18. Doing the math: Gold is 15.18/2.3=6.6 times as heavy as porcelain. 64x6.6=422.4 lbs. that the toilet I linked would weigh if made of gold instead of porcelain. Given that the seat and flush valve could easily add another hundred pounds, and further variation could come from the exact alloy and model of toilet used, a figure of 500-600 lbs. seems reasonable. Not too far off from Buckt's 727 lbs., and definitely less than I expected. That weight is concentrated on a small area of the floor, though, and will be increased by the weight of the person sitting on it, so reinforcing the floor still may have been needed.

Also, despite the quote from the artist in the title of the post, this is on a pedestal, since it is a pedestal toilet, as opposed to a wall-mount or squat toilet.
posted by TedW at 7:05 AM on September 17, 2016


It occurs to me that someone, if it hasn't happened already, will inevitably be the first person to clog the solid gold toilet. And there'll be a security guard and a long line of people and people radioing for maintenance workers to bring a plunger and all kinds of activity and that person will (if they're not a horrible person) feel so embarrassed. It would be sort of the ultimate clogged the toilet at the party situation.
posted by zachlipton at 9:38 AM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that someone, if it hasn't happened already, will inevitably be the first person to clog the solid gold toilet.

And thus a new definition of "goldbricking" was born.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:22 AM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


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