Desperate to find a quiet place to have tea during an evening walkabout in the East Village of NYC one raucous Saturday night, friends and I stopped at what appeared to be a down-at-heals coffee shop that had half turned into a hookah lounge. Despite its cardboard pastries and mediocre tea, we were happy to have found a peaceful place to talk.

One friend returned from the bathroom laughing to say she’d seen something truly remarkable, that we could only understand if we saw it in person. It was mind-boggling. In each of the two plain, cramped coffee shop bathrooms were two toilets side by side.

Sally Schneider

The vision could only be described as…artful…art. It pushed the limits of our thinking and asked questions that we could not answer. The why and how? The what-for?

Inadvertent (we believe) and anonymous, it is a match for two of the greatest artworks employing toilets: Maurizio Cattelan’s solid gold toilet America

Maurizio Cattelan via The Guggenheim

…and Marcel Duchamp’s revolutionary Fountain, about which the artist Beatrice Wood wrote:

 He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object. 


Marcel Duchamp via Wikimedia Commons


The same could be said of the anonymous visionary who placed two toilets side-by-side in a public bathroom…

…created a new thought for that object. 



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2 replies on “Annals of Found Art: Anonymous Side-by-Side Toilets Rival Duchamp and Cattelan

  1. I have had a number of these WTF moments in bathrooms trying to wrap my head around the WHAT WHY HOW of them. My first one I think was as a child seeing an outhouse that had several holes cut into the plywood lined up by each other. I probably asked someone about it but I doubt anyone ever gave me an answer or I would have remembered it. More recently I was in a restaurant and had to visit the Lav and the men’s room had a classic white porcelain commode and a urinal side by side, no divider. What was I to do? Do I lock the door? Maybe not? What if I didn’t and used the urinal? Would someone come in and use the toilet? What if I used the commode instead? Would someone come in and use the Urinal? Well I did lock it but it sure made my head spin.

  2. Wow. That is funny and strange and makes me glad I’m not a man and don’t have to figure THAT situation out. The thing about the double toilet bathroom was…there were TWO bathrooms side by side, each with two toilets. WTF? They must have been channeling Marcel Duchamp. And they made my friends and I seriously LAUGH.

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