Shit Art – Cloaca Machine

I was just watching a program about the Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye. It got me thinking about what art really is. It’s a question that is asked so much that it can become boring even thinking about it. But his Cloaca machine forced me to ask myself what art is again.
shit machine

It’s a machine that mimics the human digestive system, from the mouth to the bottom hole. Delvoye feeds Cloaca normal human food and shit comes out the other end. The end product is wrapped in plastic and sold to adoring art collectors.
There have been several versions of his cloaca machine, with the latest being a vertical system that works more like a person.
According to the website dedicated to his shit making machine, they have all sold out, with one hundred pieces being kept for “future capitalization”.

He isn’t the first artist to use feces to create art either, as the Italian artist Piero Manzoni became famous for canning his own waste and calling his works “Artist’s Shit”. The MoMA has one.
I can’t imagine owning any of the works, but it does make one think about art and the people that buy it.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. I do not call this art. I do not see how anyone could spend money of that… wel, shit….

  2. I suppose if I have to stick to my idea of what constitutes art (it is art because it was created with the intent to be art) then it is art. But, honestly speaking, man that is really stretching it eeek! Oh, it is bloody awful and people are actually buying it, amazing!!!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    SHIT,I wouldent by it ether.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can’t help but recall the gimmicks sold in comic books and Boy’s Life magazines – x-ray glasses, remote control “ghosts”(a balloon draped with plastic sheeting hung from a string), etc. I can see Cloaca machines as a biologic demonstration devices but the “art” of them escapes me.
    Perhaps I’ll start using clear shoe polish on the art I respect, that way I can say I know shit from Shinola…

  5. Cloaca is awesome! The biggest stink raised is from the I-wouldn’t-buy-it-because-I’m-to-smart crowd. Wake up and see what he is really saying about the art industry, selling art, and you. It’s a perfect commentary on what people value most about the art world. Most of the time people are to busy making potty jokes to see their own relationship to the machine. Someone had to make this machine to try and make some sense out of the current art market. His next Cloaca will make Damien Hirst pieces.

  6. John, I understood what he was saying and you bring up some great points, but I stand by my post. yak!!!!

  7. I’m glad somebody mentioned Damien Hirst in this context! (Say no more, in case he sues!) Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain – a manufactured urinal signed by the “artist” – opened the floodgates to this sort of dung. We’ve all been threatening to put our dogs’ turds on the art market (signed and dated, of course), but none of had the cheek to do it. A machine that makes it for you. Wow! What an innovation! Just what we all needed. I’ll stick to a Jack Russell terrier, thank you.
    What is art? I don’t believe it’s what you say it is, despite idiotic museum curators falling over themselves to buy urinals, unmade beds and the like. That’s the Emperor’s Clothes Syndrome.
    Bernard Berenson devoted an entire chapter of his book “Italian Painters of the Renaissance” trying to answer this question, and he came up with the best answer I’ve ever come across: art gives you the strength to carry on.
    If a poo machine gives you that strength, go for it! But it’s not for me. I need to see some talent that raises us above other animals. You realize that chimpanzee “art” sells for big money! Groan….

  8. Anonymous says:

    I made a machine that you feed it crap and it poops food. It’s called
    ‘human mind’

  9. I don’t like this work coxsoft, but I am thankful that duchamp opened the floodgates. I would hate to have my work determined by rigid rules that dictate what is and isn’t art. The current elitism in modern art is no better than the one in the past in which anybody who departed from the rigid norm was dogmeat.

  10. I can actually feel my “Pet Rock” collection soar in value at this exact second! I would LOVE to have their client list.

  11. All he is doing is raising questions about art… does art need to be aesthetically pleasing? Or at least not displeasing or ugly? He is trying to push the boundaries of what society considers “good art” or “acceptable art”… he is offering it for consideration… to make you think. The concept is important… and that is why people buy the product of his art.

  12. Anonymous says:

    uhhh… anyone who is offended by this is so boring… This is such a trendy peice that is midly amusing and ‘oh dear’ someone bought the peices.
    It’s kind of low brow, and it’s sort of fun to watch. Don’t get so mad about buyers having bad taste, it’s probably the only reason you’ve sold anything yourself :)

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am astonished at how boring/ conservative the majority of the above commentators are. –Not only plainly showing limited understanding of art but little ambition to challenge those assumptions, -which is much worse!.

  14. So, for anyone who considers this to be true art, what does this piece say to you? what does it mean?
    If you’re willing and open, read Marya Mannes essay “How Do You Know It’s Good?”. it not only goes into detail on the assumptions of art, but also music and poetry. And I agree with every word. Critics and artists alike have become lazy and use the excuse that they’re breaking through the restraints of society so that they can sell random splashes or, as above, crap. Maybe if i were the least bit interest in knowing the process of grinding up food so it looks like crap (where’s the stomach acid, and the bile, and the rest that goes with human digestion, hmm?) i’d buy it. But not likely.
    Kudos to him for exploiting the culture which he knows can’t resist anything ‘avante garde’.

  15. To be honest, I quite prefer Delvoye’s pieces on the bodily processes to those wrought iron monstrosities he’s done. He’s also made a short film wherein whiteheads are squeezed at extremely close range ( I wonder how much of the cloaca machine is his own work and how much is the work of paid consultants, artisans I guess you’d call them. Did he reserch the processes of the body and then replicate them on his own or did he job it out to organic chemists? It’s not a simple thing to create shit without the aid of intestines and a stomach.

  16. call a can of shit art?
    Maybe, but It’s still a can of shit.
    Buy it, pay actual cash for shit?
    A fool and his money are soon parted.

  17. I think his work can be called a science project. Yes, a lot of thought went into the machine, but I think everyone over thinks this. It makes poop,not art. If I am not mistaken…I think he hired a team to come up with the machine, he didn’t design it…

    Now he is tattooing pigs with copyrighted cartoon characters…is that art? Even the tattoos aren’t original.

    And don’t get me started on Damien Hirst killing animals to chop up for those pieces he displays in museums. I would pull my money if I was a donor.

  18. I think these kinds of things are not meant to be taken seriously. They’re just tongue-in-cheek jabs at those who consider themselves the gatekeepers and trendsetters and those who expect all art to be all serious all the time. After all if you can get some shit past them, you must be smarter than them, right?

  19. I like the machine. I’m glad someone has done it, and the controversy it has kicked up, but the ‘pieces’ themselves, no thanks!


  1. [...] FAECES (NEW YORK, 26.01.2002, 2.30 P.M.) by the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. It was created by his shit making machine that I mentioned a while [...]

  2. [...] “Shit blog” – I hope I don’t rank well for this search term! [...]

  3. […] Shit Art – Cloaca Machine – Shit was big for collectors of it. […]

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