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Museumgoers Can Poop in This 18-Karat Gold Toilet

It's named 'America'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2016 8:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – Consider it the No. 1 way to take a No. 2. New York's Guggenheim Museum on Friday swapped out a plain old porcelain toilet for a solid gold one in a private unisex washroom on its fourth floor and is allowing any paying visitor to use it, reports PIX 11. The 18-karat gold throne—flushable and everything—is the "bold, irreverent work" of Italian artist and sculptor Maurizio Cattelan, who has named it, simply, "America." Why? Cattelan suggests it's a nod to economic inequality, reports the BBC. "Whatever you eat, a $200 lunch or a $2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise," he tells Calvin Tomkins at the New Yorker.

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In "making available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1%," the toilet "evokes the American dream of opportunity for all—its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity," the museum explains. It's also a break from the "don't touch" nature of the museum world, providing "an extraordinary opportunity to spend time completely alone with a work of art by a leading contemporary artist." The work, being compared to Marcel Duchamp's 1917 work "Fountain," certainly allows for an intimate experience, though a guard will be stationed outside as you do your business. The toilet will also be cleaned every 15 minutes with special wipes. A warning from Tomkins: "The toilet seat is really heavy to lift." (This man got trapped in a pretty full toilet after trying to retrieve a phone.)

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