The visitors passing the threshold of a toilet from the Guggenheim Museum of New York can pee in a toilet from solid gold. The toilet is the artwork of the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and is called ‘America’. The museum replaced one of the usual porcelain toilets with an equivalent one, at real scale, from 18 karat gold, perfectly functional. The extravagant creation it wants to be a social commentary regarding the differences between ‘having’ and ‘not having’ in the world – a thing to which the visitors are invited to reflect while the use the accessory, ‘individual and in intimacy’. The toilet has a value of 38.000 euros and can be used on undetermined period. ‘Cattelan replaced the toilet from this bathroom with a perfectly functional replica, from 18 carat gold, making available for the public an extravagant luxury product which is normally reserved to 1% of the population’ according to the museum’s website.
Its participatory nature, the public being invited to use the accessory individually, allows an experience of an unprecedented privacy, with an artwork, it is also said in the message. According to the New Yorker, after this artwork was installed, Cattelan joked: ‘No matter what you eat, a $200 lunch or a $2 hot dog, the result is the same’. The golden toilet will be permanently supervised by an agent who will stay next to the bathroom, and the toilet will be cleaned in every 15 minutes. This work of Cattelan was compared to the ‘Fountain’ of Marcel Duchamp, a urinal from porcelain which had great impact in the artists’ world when he enrolled it at the annual exhibition of the Independent Artists Society, from New York, in 1917. This artwork was rejected then and now is seen as one of the iconic artworks of the 20th century.