Virtual Urban


Public Toilet
Financed by the Ljubljana City Council, Vigred Company and Joze Barsi
Author: Joze Barsi and co-authors: Martina Bastarda, Mateja Ocepek and Natasa Skusek
Location: Metelkova, Ljubljana

In 1999, I received a grant from the Ljubljana City Council to build a public toilet in Metelkova. Metelkova is a part of Ljubljana where military barracks of former Yugoslav army were stationed before the ten-days war following the secession of Slovenia. Now, the complex of about six buildings is occupied by people involved with culture. Metelkova is a place of constant cultural events, such as concerts, exhibitions and theatre activities, and hosts artists' studios, disabled people's centre, a centre for gay and lesbian movement, etc. The site is in derelict state and lacks toilets.

The toilet is a free-standing object, made of sheet iron, wood and plastic. It includes two chemical toilets divided into two separate units, with access for disabled people. It has a functional form, which avoids ambitious architectural or artistic impressions.

The toilet was in public use until summer 2000, when Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, bought it for its collection. The Museum and I signed a contract, in fact a lease, which obliged the Museum to keep it in use for another two years. Afterwards, the Museum will become the sole owner of the toilet and will decide whether to keep it functioning, or transferring the structure to another location, even to the Museum. It would then become an art object.

The public toilet in Metelkova is a contribution to new forms and strategies pursued by contemporary art - one of them is internet art - that are not bound to institutionalised space.