sculpture

Artist Sneaks Urinal-Subway Seat Onto NYC Train

Inspired by Duchamp and his Readymades, Benjamin Nordsmark crafted a hybrid urinal-subway seat from plywood, painted it orange, then headed off on the subway to get people’s reactions.
April 27, 2017, 4:20pm

Using NYC's subway system on a regular basis artist and designer Benjamin Nordsmark noticed how dirty and grimy it was. He also noticed the stench of pee and the urinal-esque shape of the plastic orange seats. It got him to thinking about a new piece. "By combining these two observations the idea of the NYC Urinal came to life," Nordsmark notes.

Nordsmark then set about creating his sculpture, which combines the look of a subway seat with the plumbing of a urinal. The resulting juxtaposition pokes a little fun at the NYC subway's lack of hygiene while nodding, and winking, to the prankster trickery of the Dadaists.

Nordsmark cites Marcel Duchamp's Fountain from 1917 as an inspiration. The piece actually has its centenary anniversary this year.

"A lot of my work can in many cases be considered as readymades and are sometimes inspired by Marcel Duchamp," Nordsmark tells Creators. "Especially this piece which takes an ordinary item like a subway seat and transforms it into a sculptural piece with multiple functions. It is meant as a humorous reaction to how dirty the NYC subways can be, and to challenge the audience absurdity of certain actions and preconceived thoughts."

After its creation, Nordsmark took the art object onto the subway, showing it off in its natural habitat, holding it up so commuters could admire it. He also took it onto a platform, with a few people eyeing it suspiciously. But Nordsmark says the general reaction was one of interest and amusement. "Most people found it funny and understood the idea immediately and took photos of it," he says.

To give it an additional layer, Nordsmark created the piece using cheap plywood, then used a Bondo spray paint to create a smooth surface and give it the appearance of plastic. "This was to challenge my own craftsmanship and to show that this cheap material actually has a lot of potential," notes the artist.

NYC Urinal will be featured as part of the Portal Art Fair at the 435 Broome Street gallery space in New York from 3 May 2017. Another Duchamp inspired piece by the artist, In case of a Broken Leg, will also be there. You can check out more of Benjamin Nordsmark's work at his website here.

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