Relieve yourself of the conventional biennials and triennials of the art world with the first art festival dedicated entirely to bathrooms. The smooth-named Toilennale
is currently occurring in Japan, home to the world’s most complex and high-tech toilets
, and brings together Japanese artists who have transformed 16 public restrooms into sites for art installations — kind of like pavilions at a traditional biennial, except each pavilion comes equipped with thrones for human waste.
This festival basically attests to the fact that Japan’s public restrooms are so clean and cool that they warrant marketing as destinations one could find on TripAdvisor. Do not forget that Japan already has a “transparency toilet
” that shows off its interior when vacant.
For this year’s Toilennale, one park lavatory literally becomes a sweet site, transformed inside and out by a trio of artists into an enormous piece of pink candy titled “Melting Dreams.” A video installation projects images of people painting on the mirrored, outer walls of a bathroom, celebrating bathroom graffiti as art rather than a nuisance or a crime. Like any typical art biennale, Toilennale also hosts a number of workshops and performance art pieces, except its offerings include a poetry reading that invites audience members into toilet stalls for private sessions.
Of course, since these places are still open to use for their original functions, the festival has a couple of regulations: “Please knock the door before entering a private room,” brochure says. “Please don’t forget it is a toilet. Someone may want to use it.” Wise advice but may be tough to follow especially for those who want to sit through artist Tatsuo Majima
‘s piece, which is a 90-minute-long, one-on-one lecture on modern art history, presented on a toilet-side tablet.
In all seriousness: if there’s a country that deserves several outlets to celebrate the design of its toilets and bathrooms, it would be Japan, where sleek seats for excretion offer features so advanced that some require guides
to explain their butt-pampering buttons. Japanese, however, are far from the only ones who cherish the craftsmanship of comfort stations: a quick browse through the online-only Art Museum Toilet Museum of Art
shows that museums around the world take the art of bathroom design pretty seriously. We’ve come a long, long way from Duchamp