In Vienna, a man is watching a woman reapply her lipstick in bathroom mirror.
It’s a mundane scene, repeated thousands of times in any number of domestic scenarios across continents. But in this particular Vienna restaurant, the scene veers from the ordinary to the grotesque. Through a one-way mirror, men standing in their restroom have a direct view of women standing at the sink on the other side of the mirror–strangers.
The installation, created by the Austrian artist Alexander Riegler attempts to “stir people into a discussion of voyeurism and surveillance.” Says the artist: “In the age of social media and omnipresent video surveillance, almost everyone is on stage, consciously or unconsciously.”
In an attempt to balance the experience, he will reverse the mirror in January so that women can look at men’s faces while they stand at the urinal.
Where does the shift occur between voyeurism and voyeuristic art? Unclear and Alexander Riegler certainly blurs the boundary. Initially, restroom users were not informed that the mirror was one-sided. After a local newspaper reported the story resulting in patron complaints, the restaurant installed a sign warning women they were part of an “art project.”