Creative Prose Musings Travel

Toilets at the Venice Biennale

water, water, everywhere and not a spot to piss

April 23rd, Giardini di Venezia.

I’m in a queue in the gardens of the Venice Biennale waiting for a piss.

I’ve never been to the Biennale before and though I’m enjoying it more than a kick in the gut (tho not as much as I’d enjoy a slap on the face wuheyyyy 😉), my biggest takeaway isn’t going to be any particular piece of individual art, but it is the astoundingly poor level of toilet preparedness here.

Is this an Italian thing?

Because it’s certainly not a class thing – I spent a lot of my twenties as a depressed plus-one (and a lot of my thirties as a depressed worker) at fancy events for posh people in the dull Anglophone countries I’ve spent an embarrassing percentage of my life, and those events are always filled with toilets, overflowing with toilets that never overflow, toilets kept very clean because even though squeezing out piss and shit from our bodies is an inherently disgusting thing, to do a disgusting thing in a disgusting place compounds the horror, rather than distracting from it. To defecate in plush surroundings elevates the experience: we do not need to be in squalor while we create it.


The queue cleared and I found myself ushered into an appalling room.

A viscous scent of hot scat careened up my now hairy and scab-free nostrils, and my box fresh Nike high tops crunched into 5mm of piss and water, rippling the floating tendrils of floor-tossed toilet paper that looked like the stringy seaweed that clings to the edges of this false archipelago…

this false archipelago, this collection of reclaimed (claimed?) marshland that has been fighting the water for the entirety of its existence…

The water, the villain who Venice has long fought as if an equal, but it is a villain that will pose an unstoppable threat later this century as sea levels irrevocably rise due to our (humanity’s) desecration of the natural world and the Italian state must choose between two impossible choices:

1. damn the Venetian lagoon, separate it forever from the Adriatic & hold this middle class Disneyland in an eternal below-sea level purgatory, or;

2. let the waters flow, transpose the city’s treasures inland brick by brick and leave what remains for the gulls, pigeons and the artsy squatters willing to risk collapsing buildings and dysentry to get to live in the ruins of one of the most important – and beautiful – cities the world has ever seen.

If option two is the way it goes and I’m still kicking, I will definitely hobble my way to Venice and finally find my watery rest here, just like Vesper Lynd.

“The bitch is dead,” they will say, and I will truly be pleased.

April 24th addendum

Ok, I went to the Arsenale instead of the Giardini today and they did have proper toilets.

Still not quite clean enough, but better than nothing…

April 24th addendum ii

While taking the upbeat selfie used as the header for this rare undelayed post, my clip-on sunglasses fell off my shirt into the pissdamp floor of this Arsenale disabled toilet.

Yet more proof that anything other than a constant state of misery is a very dangerous thing! is 10 years old! Celebrate by sharing this post – or others – with friends (if you have any), family (if you have any), lovers (which I presume you have because this website isn’t for children), or by donating to the site via the below link so that I can maybe take a day off work some time and enjoy being alive for a few hours.

1 comment on “Toilets at the Venice Biennale

  1. Pingback: Around the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings by Nellie Bly – Triumph Of The Now

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