“Cow dung goes high design” (Christine Smallwood – T/ The New York Times Style Magazine)
The exhibition won the First Prize Milano Design Award at Fuorisalone 2016, with the following motivation: “for the story of a great complexity and innovation, able to destabilize the common perception. The didactic course undermines all the academic stereotypes to propose relevant sensory experience that promotes a new vision of design culture.
Heritage and novelty. The Shit Museum has chosen the Storica Società di Incoraggiamento Arti & Mestieri (Historical Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Crafts) to present its first product range.
In the palazzo in Via Santa Marta, designed in neo-Renaissance style by Francesco Pestagalli, the SIAM has pursued the noble cause of bringing together and mixing technology, sustainability and innovation with Italian cultural inheritance and know-how since 1838. A no-profit training centre, it has long protected craftwork and expertise with a view to valorising professional skills which may still provide trainees with concrete work opportunities. It generates ideas that keep alive the same revolutionary impetus towards progress which drove its founders, and which may be found to this day in their headquarters in Via Santa Marta.
The association 5Vie Art + Design, co-producer of the show, worked on the premise of valorising an area of the city: the old town. Here stand the Roman walls, the decumanus and the cardo, the essence of the city’s shape boiled down to its bare constitutive elements. Concision, synthesis and bareness.
These are themes and visions that intersect with the vocation for transformation, sustainability and creation of the Shit Museum, which here puts itself on show in order to contextualise the creation of its first products.
The alchemy of work: the generous fostering of arts and sciences. Flowerpots, vases, plates, tiles and other iconic objects that turn shit into everyday objects and thought. Into the essential elements of contemporary living.
The courtyard of the palazzo opens the show with a room that emerges from the floor, like a buried architecture of bricks and tiles in MERDACOTTA: the material made largely of dry shit and, to a lesser degree, of clay, which forms the basis of all the Shit Museum products. Products for the home are displayed on the floor, both for interiors and exteriors. At the far end, outside the room, the toilet stands all alone.
On the basement floor, with Roman walls and an earthen floor, a journey starts along which to discover all the products. A selection of works and findings has been transported for the occasion from Castelbosco to Milan. Contemporary art, anthropology, architecture and archetypal objects; a coprolite from 200 million years ago. The constellation of the Shit Museum is all in its products.
In the first room, a projection of photographs by Henrik Blomqvist presents the Museum, both inside and out, as in a stop-motion animated film. In the centre stands the Museum’s homage to Piero Manzoni: a pyramid of six cans, all made of MERDACOTTA, each eight times larger than the original by the Lombard artist.
The large room next to it houses the works of the painter Roberto Coda Zabetta. Produced using shit from Castelbosco, his new canvases are a tribute to a primordial material, a thought addressed to the Earth, the testimony of a process of recycling and rebirth, in which there is no extinction. What is used is synonymous with what already exists.
Passing from room to room, we come across the video Resurrection by Daniel Spoerri (the story of a shit which becomes a steak once more) and Blomqvist’s photographs and videos, which highlight the spirit, mission and activity of the Museum. The images underline all the products, each on its own pedestal, each stating its own primordial nature. The synthesis of an ancient matrix of shape and material which is clarified in the sequence of objects, and in their installation within such a space.
Like a meteorite, an enormous Tetris piece or a mysterious archaeological finding: this is the Giga Shit Brick. A parallelepiped 120 cm long, 60 cm wide and 40 cm high, it invades the space around it with its oversized measurements. It may serve as a bench, a low table or a sculpture. It is entirely handmade and constitutes an object of desire.
Lastly, the dining room is of emblematic importance: a square table set for two, with two toilets serving as seats, and a kitchen TV set with an extract from The Phantom of Liberty by Luis Buñuel in which the dining table and the toilet are also coupled.
Making sure all bases are covered.
In conversation with Dirty Furniture Magazine