Take a Whiz on Wall Street: Danish Artists Move JPMorgan's Executive Bathroom to a Lower East Side Diner

September 29, 2011

By Scott Indrisek

Published: September 29, 2011

Danish collective Superflex has flooded a McDonald's, burned a car, and sold guarana-flavored soda in collaboration with Brazilian farmers. Now, as part of Creative Time's "Living As Form" exhibition, which opened this weekend, the trio is pulling off what some might call a scatological intervention: They've installed a close replica of the JPMorgan Chase headquarters executive restroom in the Greek-owned Olympic Diner on Delancey Street.

The piece, called "Power Toilet," is a reprise of a similar project in the Netherlands, where Superflex placed a facsimile of the UN headquarters' security council bathroom in a public park. Superflex gained access to JPMorgan Chase's private restroom thanks to an anonymous inside source who was able to take camera phone photos and make measurements of the space. Each detail, including the generic artwork on the wall, has been recreated.

"When you enter into a diner, it's a functional place — it has its life," says Superflex member Bjørnstjerne Christiansen. "Then all of a sudden you go into the toilet. At first you may notice it looks a bit strange for a place like this — it's really the working class who come here. We hope people could make the links to JP Morgan Chase or what the financial crisis means to them personally, as a story, as a cultural discussion."

Even if "Power Toilet" doesn't spur such high-level ruminations, Superflex admits that it's a boon to the Lower East Side, which has a dearth of public restrooms. And the Olympic's own staff, they say, are happy to have a newer alternative to the "horrible, stinky, terrible" facilities that "Power Toilet" is supplementing. "In that sense it is a gift, but it's a collaboration. They take part in this continuous artwork. It will stay here as long as they're here."

And why JPMorgan Chase, exactly? "It's one of the big four, but also the bank that after the crisis has grown most of all — after their heavy involvement in the biggest scandals of the last 15 years," says Christiansen. "So that is important — to point at them — but also to take that power here, and make it usable."