New York: An 18-karat solid gold toilet seat is set to be installed at a US museum bathroom and the 'piece of art' will not just be for viewing but could be used too.
The Guggenheim Museum here will install the fully functional, 18-karat solid gold toilet by Maurizio Cattelan in one of its public bathroom stalls.
"You can lock the door and have your experience, whether that be just looking at the toilet or using it," Guggenheim publicist Molly Stewart told the New York Daily News.
Stewart said she believes this work, titled 'Maurizio Cattelan: America', to be the first time a toilet that is available to public use will be on display at the Guggenheim.
The lavatory masterwork marks an end to its creator's self-imposed retirement.
Cattelan, 55, walked away from the art world in 2011, right around the time the Guggenheim held a retrospective for his work. He said at the time the demands of the art world had sent his inspiration down the drain. The idea for "America" though, brought him roaring back to the scene.
Cattelan told the New York Times that he alluded to economic inequality as a theme of the toilet piece, but said the meaning is left up to the seer -- or the sitter.
"It's not my job to tell people what a work means. But I think people might see meaning in this piece," Cattelan said. The museum said in a statement that the piece "makes available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 per cent." The work will replace one of the museum's Kohler toilets in a unisex bathroom.
It will even have its own full-time security guard -- standing outside the restroom to 'check in' occasionally and make sure it's not vandalised, Stewart said.
Doing one's duty, though, will not count as defacement. "I don't think peeing in it or defecating inside it is considered vandalising the object," Stewart said.
"America will remain on display in the stall for the long term," she said.