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from the article “Hybrid Art Awards” by Regine:
An award of distinction in the category of Hybrid Art was given to Wim Delvoye for the ultra-famous Cloaca, an installation that gulps food and mechanically processes and produces what is —even under scientific examination—impossible to differentiate from human excrement.
from the article “A Human Masterpiece”
by Els Fiers
Cloaca, the latest work by the Belgian conceptualist Wim Delvoye (b. 1965), has just closed out its run at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MuHKA) in Antwerp. It was a room-sized installation of six glass containers connected to each other with wires, tubes and pumps. Every day, the machine received a certain amount of food.
Meat, fish, vegetables and pastries passed through a giant blender, were mixed with water, and poured into jars filled with acids and enzyme liquids. There they got the same treatment as the human stomach would supply. Electronic and mechanical units controlled the process, and after almost two days the food came out of a filtering unit as something close to genuine, human shit.
During the exhibition, the smelly assembly line caused quite some consternation. It seemed to bring an infernal message into the world. There is enough dung as it is. Why make more?
Worse, the installation was placed in a cold, clean space at the museum, where it was nourished by a first class chef who prepared two meals a day in an attached kitchen. The atmosphere suggested a hospital equipped for a strange experiment -- the birth and care of a machine that eats and defecates -- a mechanical baby. "Hi," it seemed to say, "I'm almost like you."
Delvoye's work doesn't resemble the human body, though perhaps it could be called a figurative work. But visitors walked out with a strange look on their faces, as if they'd just paid a visit to the devil. Cheeks turn a little pale as art, the beautiful image of humanity, turned into the making of stool.
Delvoye has given a name to his harsh creature: Cloaca, referring to the ancient sewer in Rome. But while the cloaca maxima proved to be useful, this Cloaca goes beyond every purpose, except of course revealing of the meaning of art. So, too, the spending and earning of money is part of its purpose. The machine daily delivered turds that were signed and sold for $1,000 each.
Absurd? "Imagine a very rich man who plays golf," Delvoye said. "He spends a massive amount of time and money for just one purpose: to put a little ball into a hole. Isn't that absurd?"