Back Door Art

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Now, doors and windows made of human excreta
by Puneet Nicholas Yadav
DNA Report
December 12, 2007

Doors made from human excrement by Mexican artist Santiago SierraNew Delhi: You could pass this off as a prank but making doors and windows out of human faeces is now possible. Mexico-based sculptors Santiago Sierra and Mariana David and India's very own sanitation whiz Sulabh International have together evolved a technology of making strong, durable and waterproof doors and windows from human faeces.

Sierra and David had in early 2005 contacted Sulabh International's founder – Bindeshwar Pathak to discuss their idea of making ‘environment-friendly doors' from human excreta, which could be an alternative to the usual wooden or metal doors and windows.

"The Mexican sculptors had read about Sulabh's work and contacted us in early 2005. I was extremely surprised when they told me about their idea of making furniture from human waste and I initially thought it was impossible as such a thing was unheard of. But they assured me it could work wonders and we went ahead with the experiment," Pathak told DNA.

Sulabh International supplied the raw material (manure made from human faeces, collected from Sulabh lavatories) to the two sculptors who then mixed it with some chemicals and adhesives to come up with strong planks of human waste. These were then used to make the doors and windows. In a span of two years, Sierra and David have made 22 such doors.

These doors have now made there way to an exhibition at the Lisson Art Gallery of London, where they have caught the fancy of a huge audience. One of the doors has been kept at the Delhi-based Sulabh Museum of Toilets.

"Though Sierra's intention behind the experiment was to use sculpture to create awareness about the ‘superior use of human waste', I think the experiment will go a long way to protect the environment by saving millions of trees which are felled for timber requirements," said Pathak. However, Pathak clarified that the experiment may not find many takers in India due to the society's way of thinking here. But the experiment has provided a good enough reason to experiment further with human faeces.