Poop with a Purpose
We all need some poop in our lives that takes the form of comedy. In the case of this article, it is shit.
The Shit Museum is located in a rural stretch of northern Italy 62 miles outside Milan. The museum has all kinds of shit, ranging from cow poop to dog poop. A few crystal spheres exhibit poop to show the components of it.
The museum has a farm next to it. The official website of the museum states that shit powers all the different installations of the farm. As stated on the website: “It is now a futuristic ecological and cultural project. Using highly innovative systems, electrical energy started to be produced by the manure”.
The Shit Museum aims to look at poop as something valuable and useful. Has the museum done what it proposes; to break cultural stereotypes of shit? Well, it received a first prize in the Milano Design Award, at the event Salon del Mobile.
This is why they won the prize. They were exhibiting a whole bunch of things made from Merdacotta, a material made from cow excrement and clay. Merdacotta is a new material made from cow poop. The products don’t smell. The poop goes through a biogas generator, which extracts methane to produce energy and leaves behind dry, odorless dung. Then it’s mixed with straw, farm waste, and Tuscan clay, and molded into something new.
There’s some educated people that go to the museum to think of the meaning of life. People who think “what is the meaning of shitting with the universe?” The sort of thing people think on the toilet.
What else is there to say about shit? Well, back in 1961, an artist called Piero Manzoni decided to shit inside some tin cans to make art. He sealed them and then he distributed 90 other tin cans to the public. The cans were on display in an art museum for some time. A classmate introduced me to this artist, and his comment about the work was: “there is a lot of shitty art out there, but this one is the worst”.
Manzoni sold the cans based on their weight in gold – 37$ each in 1961. No one wants to open them because who want to open a can of shit? It is until a whole bunch of years later, after Piero Manzoni had made a lot of money; Bernard Bazile decides to open a can in 1989. What was in the can? A smaller can. The tin cans smell like deception.
From the same idea, there is a urinal adapted by Duchamp that he turned onto its side and renamed “Fountain”. Where does the pee go when a man pees? Well, it goes down. Since the urinal is on its side, the pee is going back to the person. He wanted the audience to feel like shit.
The material that the projects are using is the same. However, the purpose that they are using the poop for is for two different things during two different time periods. Museo Della Merda and Artist’s Shit are both made of the same material. There’s good shit and there’s bad shit.
The Museum’s objectives are ecological sustainability, to challenge the cultural stereotypes of shit and make money with usable things made from shit. Their purpose of poop is practicality. The other purpose of poop is deception. Piero Manzoni convinces the public to believe something that is not there. The artist is a smoke seller; something that disappears into thin air after the consumer has bought it.
Advertisers deceive the public into buying stuff they don’t need. People should recognize the difference between a product that deceives and a product that is practical. There’s an entire system of design where objects break after some months of use. There should be objects designed to last a long time. We are frequently advertised shit that in the end, breaks or goes out of fashion. It is an endless cycle of being fed deception and expelling it as shit and then falling for the lies we are fed once again.
Written By: Sara Rebeca Palacios