Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Wim Delvoye | Cloaca Mug

Wim Delvoye
Cloaca Mug
New York City, USA: New Museum, 2002
11 oz mug
Edition size unknown

Perhaps the artist's signature work, Cloaca is a large installation of beakers and machinery that mimics the human digestive system: you feed it in the morning, and in the the afternoon it shits. 

These commemorative ceramic gift shop mugs were produced for Delvoye's first solo show in USA, at the New Museum in New York City, in 2002. The show later travelled to the Power Plant in Toronto, where I fed it its final meal with my friend Alex (coincidentally, on an Easter Sunday).  

The Cloaca logo takes the Procter & Gamble brand name and mascot (also known as Mr. Proper) and presents him with his intestines exposed, adorned with a title card that resembles the Ford logo. 

"This exhibition of Wim Delvoye’s large-scale installation Cloaca represents the first-ever solo presentation by a U.S. museum of the acclaimed young Belgian artist’s work. Built from chemical beakers, electric pumps, and plastic tubing arrayed on a series of seven stainless steel tables, Cloaca is the result of a three-year collaboration between the artist and scientists at the University of Antwerp, whose shared mission was to duplicate the functions of the human digestive system as closely as possible. Cloaca is fed twice a day from a large funnel reached by climbing a stepladder.  At the work’s inauguration, Delvoye himself ascended the ladder carrying a tray laden with a tasty and substantial Belgian meal of mushroom soup, filet of fish, and a rich pudding, which he dropped in the funnel a dollop at a time. The food is chewed by a garbage disposal device before traveling on a 27-hour-long digestive trajectory, through six glass vats connected by tubes and pipes, pumps and various electronic components that are Cloaca's stomach, pancreas, and small and large intestines. The “digesting” food is constantly kept at a precise 37.2 degrees centigrade and each of Cloaca’s “organs” is full of computer-monitored enzymes, bacteria, acids and bases such as pepsin, pancreatin, and hydrochloric acid. The product finally goes through a separator and the remaining solids are extruded onto a conveyer belt."
 - Dan Cameron, Senior Curator at the New Museum

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