Public Toilets – A Light Installation by Luz Interruptus


What do you get when you mix male urine containers, a light source in each one, some yellow water, and the urine-smelling street spots in Madrid?

You get Luz Interruptus’ public art installation Public Toilets. It was more of an intervention of sorts – Luz wanted to call some attention to the lack of respect that some people have for public places.  Apparently public urination in Madrid (as in many cities all over the world, actually) is quite an issue, and there are many pee-smelling places across the city.  My dad always told a story that had something to do with pee and the statue of Christopher Columbus (Plaza de Colón) when he was in the Navy, so this has been going on for quite some time.

Luz Interruptus took male urine collectors and a light source – I assume an LED – and filled the container with yellow liquid, placing them all over Madrid where the “scent” was located.  Gross.  Nice commentary, though.  From the Luz Interruptus site:

We like to use the streets and enjoy having fun out there. Of course, we are glad to see in summer people walking, speaking and having a drink or a snack without paying the expensive prices of an outdoor bar, just so that we can sit at a public place, which we understand is intended for everybody, but some people use for private purposes.

What also annoys us is seeing how during the day and at nightime people urinate anywhere in the streets without any embarassement. They just walk along, turn round, zip down and, even in crowded places, seen by passers-by, let go.

This is what makes the centre of Madrid look so rundown and dirty, with bad smells everywhere. It is also uncomfortable to have to walk carefully in order not to touch anything that will impregnate your shoes or clothes.

Through our installation, public toilets, we have tried to attract attention -in a comical manner- about the problem we encounter when walking in centric streets and squares. Its purpose is to remind people who have this custom and also institutions so that a solution is found —perhaps by using urban furniture where people can urinate without bothering others, in case of extreme urgency…

For this reason, on the early morning 28th July we wandered along San Ildefonso Square and side streets: a very crowded area at night time when the atmosphere is great. We carried 80 male urine containers, the ones used in hospitals. Inside we poured yellow water and, what else but our lights.

Once we had located the ‘wet’ spots- following the smell trail will do- and we set up our emergency urine containers for anybody in need to use. We are aware of some of them being used…others…will be taken home…who knows for which purpose.

The feature photos, obviously, are Gustavo Sanabria’s, who this time around had to place his camera in the most smelly of places.

Check out Gustavo’s images:







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