In Yet Another Duchamp Tribute, This Artist Slipped a Urinal-Style Seat into a Subway Car

Taking objects out of the everyday setting...and then putting them back.

Benjamin Nordsmark, NYC Subway Urinal, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

This month marks the centennial of the display of Fountain, Marcel Duchamp’s first Readymade, the sculptures that were created from everyday objects and would change the direction of art history.

In Fountain, Duchamp took the everyday bathroom urinal and christened it an artwork. A new prank by artist Benjamin Nordsmark takes the work of art from the pedestal and puts it back into an everyday setting, though not the one for which it was designed. Nordsmark attached some of the plumbing that would be part of an actual urinal to a plywood replica of a classic orange seat from a New York subway car to create a urinal in a subway.

The project was inspired by the frequency with which Nordsmark says he encounters the smell of urine while riding the train. Thoughts of how the functionality of the seats could be increased by adding some plumbing led to the thought of a fixture that could serve as both seat and urinal, Nordsmark told artnet News by email.

Benjamin Nordsmark, <i>NYC Subway Urinal</i>, 2017</i>. Courtesy of the artist.

Benjamin Nordsmark, NYC Subway Urinal, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Duchamp’s Fountain was signed “R. Mutt 1917,” for the supposed name of the plumber who had actually fabricated the object. Nordsmark put his own signature on the new piece.

In a video posted to YouTube, the artist hoists the work onto a subway, where onlookers warily eye the artist as he holds the project up in various locations.

A cabinetmaker with an MFA from the Royal Danish Academy, Nordsmark has also created sculptures with more sober subject matter, such as a series focusing on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

You can see the project at the second edition of the 4heads Portal art show, in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, from May 3–8, and you can pick one up for your personal use at $4,000.

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