— O.M.

MONA + Delvoye: The Art of Shit.

The Musem of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania, is a very intriguing and exciting place to visit. It is also controversial, unapologetic and features one of the great private art collections of the modern world. Opened in 2011 by an eccentric David Walsh who made his fortune in the gambling industry, MONA cost $75 million to build and contains an art collection worth nearly $100 million. The collection features a variety of works from an original Egyptian sarcophagus all the way to modern commissioned works such as Christopher Townend’s sound installation in the Kiefer pavilion tunnel, Julis Popp’s water sculpture ‘Bit.fall’ or Wim Delvoye’s ‘Cloaca Professional’.

Cloaca Professional. 2010.William Delvoye. Mona Museum. Tasmania. November 2012

Cloaca Professional. 2010.Wim Delvoye.
Mona Museum. Tasmania. November 2012

The latter has become probably one of the more known pieces exhibited in Walsh’ s art temple. The ‘Cloaca Professional’, often dubbed ‘the poop machine‘, is a 5-reactor machine that mimics the digestive functions of a human body. It is fed twice every day and processes the intake just a like human body would through it’s complex system of stomachs, and at exactly 2 p.m. every day it produces and actual excrement. Just as our bodies would.
Yes, we are ultimately looking at a machine that produces shit and is seen upon as a piece of art.
Belgian conceptualist Wim Delvoye is known for his controversial and striking artworks that have historically stirred heated discussions, and towards this piece he reportedly only noted that everything in modern life is pointless and that the most pointless object he could create was a machine that serves no purpose at all.

Cloaca Professional is art imitating life and therefore greatly succeeding in it’s purpose. There can be many layers to the work though: some say the actual piece of art is the final product, and that the implication intended is that the art produced is shit, which would create a completely different, self-critical, perception to the artwork. Others sometimes fail to spot the conceptual brilliance (let it be whichever) and tend to flee the room in disgust and claim to have been attacked on their senses.

It is the most hated, but also most visited piece of art in the MONA collection. The collection owner David Walsh, replying to a question on how a defecating machine can be art, just simply replied: “Aren’t we just machines for manufacturing shit?” – That says it all.

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