I don’t know much about ART but I can tell you this:
Duchamp’s Urinal is a piece of piss!
© The Doug Anthony Allstars – ‘Funk You’
Why have a photographed a bunch of stickers on a wall?
Take a closer look: they’re not just any stickers. One, bearing the business letterhead of Veitch – manufacturer of ‘Quality stainless steel products’ – outlines the customer details of a a certain item known as a hinge grate urinal, sized at 1500 (I’m assuming centimetres), for an entity known as Tradelink St Kilda. So far, so what?
The sticker next to it seems to offer a water rating for – we can only assume – said hinge grate urinal. Its rating is 1.9, and as I am not a connoisseur of any aquatic devices, let alone urinals (hinge grate or otherwise) I cannot tell you what a 1.9 signifies in the greater scheme of things. However, it gets one out of a possible five stars, so it can’t be that good.
The sticker below actually names the model as a ‘hinge grate deluxe model’, and provides diagrams and perhaps details of how it should be installed and operated. Does the fact that it is the deluxe model suggest that the - ahem – bog-standard model receives an even lower, no-star water rating?
I saw these stickers in a room in a building during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year. The building, for the duration of the festival, operates as ‘Tuxedo Cat’, one of the other artier, edgier, more interesting independent venues during MICF. The room – if you haven’t guessed – was in fact ‘the smallest room in the house’, and the stickers weren’t attached to a wall – they were stuck to said hinge grate urinal.
Why did I photograph the hinge grate urinal in the dunny of the Tuxedo Cat during the 2011 Melbourne International Comedy Festival?
That’s the wrong question. (And the wrong answer is, ‘as a continuation of the tradition begun in 2010’!)
A better question would be, Why would you install a urinal leaving these stickers still attached to it?
I assume it’s because of sticker number three, with the diagram and instructions of installation and operation. Most intelligent place to have them while the unit is being installed.
Best question of all: Why are those stickers still attached?
Do you really need an answer?
If you leave them on during installation and fail to remove them after installation and they are still on during operation and usage – well, they're definitely staying on. Who wants the job of taking them off?
Or perhaps it’s a test a manhood – to see how long they take to get pissed off. The added challenge being, they are attached with some kind of adhesive, and they’re above groin level. It’s not like pissing a sh*t stain off the bowl…
Of course, the other obvious reason would be the same reason most toilet cubicles in pubs have ads on the doors now. Captive audience. Place writing in front of them, they’re more than likely to read it. Although – if you were going to start renting urinals as billboard space, surely you’d want to advertise more than just other urinals. The urinal market’s got to be pretty limited. Surely the last people to need a urinal are the ones already using one. I think you'll find they have one at hand.
And what of those fine purveyors of quality stainless steel products?
I can’t help wondering if the Veitch behind the company is related to Michael Veitch. Remember him? Originally of D-Generation fame, followed by a long stint on Fast Forward, and now fronting the ABC arts program he used to take the piss out of back in his sketch comedy days. That'd be an awesome irony, if there was a connection between taking a piss in an arty, interesting comedy venue and an arty, former piss-taking comedian.
Which leads me to my last artful piss-taking photo.
You’ve no reason to recognise this, necessarily, but they are a pair of cubicles in the men’s loo at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. And I think you might have guessed that anyway if you’d thought about it: it had to be somewhere frequented by the sort of gentlemen with enough refinement that, should they suffer performance anxiety and be otherwise unable to line up at a urinal, they still have the decency to LIFT THE SEAT RATHER THAN PISS ALL OVER IT! Heck, they probably even did that other most rare of lavatory activities – wash their hands afterwards.
GENTLEMEN LIFT THE SEAT
What exactly does this mean? Is it a sociological description, a definition of a gentleman which I can either take or leave?
Or perhaps it’s a loyal toast…
© Jonathan Miller, ‘Heat-Death of the Universe’, Beyond the Fringe