One Way Glass Toilet

Circulating message claims that attached photographs show a public toilet made of one way glass located in Houston, Texas

Brief Analysis:
The photographs are genuine but the description is inaccurate. The toilet shown in the photographs is not a permanent public facility and it is not located in Houston, Texas.

Subject: Loo with a view…..Awesome ToiletTHE LADY IS GETTING READY TO ENTER!!
This is a picture of a public toilet in Houston:
One Way Glass Toilet
Now that you’ve seen the outside view, take a look at the inside view…
One Way Glass ToiletIt’s made entirely of one-way glass!No one can see you from the outside, but when you are inside it’s like sitting in a clear glass box!Now would you… COULD YOU….???

Detailed Analysis:
The description that accompanies these images claims that they depict a public toilet located in Houston, Texas. The images show a toilet with walls made of one way glass. People inside the toilet have a plain view of the streetscape outside, but people on the street cannot see in.

The photographs are genuine, and indeed show a fully functional toilet with walls made of one-way glass. However, the toilet shown in the photographs is not a permanent public facility and it is not located in Houston, Texas. In fact, the toilet is a work of art known as “Don’t Miss a Sec” created by conceptual artist Monica Bonvicini. The “see-thu loo” was first exhibited at a construction site across from the Tate Britain Museum in London in December, 2003. A BBC news article about the exhibit notes:

Artist Monica Bonvicini has created a minimalist glass cube containing a usable loo to stand opposite the Tate Britain gallery in London.

The work, called Don’t Miss A Sec, is made out of one-way glass which means you can see out but not in.

The public sculpture will sit at the former Royal Army Medical College in Millbank, and is meant for public use.

A spokeswoman for the project said: “It will arouse curiosity because people can just come and use it, although there is a question of whether people will feel comfortable doing so.

The toilet was also exhibited at the Messeplatz in Basel, Switzerland in 2004. Unrelated photographs of the Messeplatz clearly show the same street as shown in the above photographs, so it seems clear that they were taken at the Messeplatz exhibit rather than the earlier London showing.

Thus, it is clear that the photographs were not taken in Houston nor could I find any credible reference that indicates that Bonvicini’s glass toilet was ever exhibited there.

In an interview published on Neoaztlan, Monica Bonvicini explains her motivation for creating the exhibit:

The idea for Don’t Miss a Sec.’ came in 1999. I made the drawings for it on an airplane. It relates to the urge, during big art events where so much is about “see and be seen,” to not miss anything. At any big art event, everyone needs a bathroom at some point. If you use the work for it, you are still able to see the next art work, who is passing by, who is talking with whom, and who is wearing what. At the same time, you can literally show your ass to them.

Last updated: February 5, 2017
First published: May 7, 2009
By Brett M. Christensen
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