Cloaca No. 5 Produces No. 2 In Montreal
It’s not every day that you hear radio interviews about poop machines. Last week I heard an interview on CBC radio’s arts show Q. The host, Jian Ghomeshi, was interviewing Belgian artist Wim Delvoye
about his art piece “Cloaca No. 5”, which was being exhibited in Montreal, not far from where I live.
Cloaca No. 5 is the fifth of a series of five digestion machines. Essentially, these machines eat food, digest it, and produce by-products of that digestion – farts and poop. Apparently there had been some controversy over this piece of art – it cost several thousand dollars to transport to Montreal, and not everyone thought it was money well spent.
Delvoye said in the interview that in creating the Cloaca machines, he aimed to create a machine that was completely useless. “Art should be useless,” he said.
He also said that Cloaca is a metaphor for art creation, digesting influences from other artists and making it your own. He mentioned that originally, dried samples of this machine’s creations were sold as souvenirs, but that they had sold out.
I went to the art gallery of a local university, L'Université du Québec à Montréal, where Cloaca no. 5 was being exhibited. A sign on the wall near the entrance of the gallery said that the machine was fed leftovers from the university cafeteria. I went downstairs to where the main attraction was being shown. The Cloaca machine was in the centre of a large room. On the walls of this room there were drawings of plans for Cloaca. The machine itself consisted of many large metal cans on their sides, stacked on top of each other, with tubes connecting them. The machine emitted a low humming sound as it worked, but I didn’t hear any farts. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), Cloaca didn’t poop while I was there.
I had a few thoughts later about Cloaca No. 5. I was thinking that this machine is very much a Shameless Shitter, unafraid to defecate in the middle of a room with people watching. I was also wondering – if a machine that produces poop is considered art, then does that mean that all of us produce art in our bathrooms?
For more information on the Cloaca series, visit http://cloaca.be/.