The Ten Commandments of Toiletpaper: A Manual for Creative Perversion

The Image-Only Magazine by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari Shows Us the Power of Humor and Sexuality

Text: Emily Friedman
Images: Toiletpaper

After achieving international renown as a conceptual artist, Maurizio Cattelan retired in order to create Toiletpaper magazine with fashion photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari. Since the beginning, the partnership was a sexually charged joyride through visual culture. The duo’s first collaboration was a 2009 shoot for W magazine in which Linda Evangelista was pictured crawling with standard-issue envelopes in her mouth. As a magazine with no text, Toiletpaper’s neon color palette is a remix of commercial photography and Internet-age surrealism. This brightly perverted approach to the everyday has become an indispensable visual reference across art and fashion, resulting in museum exhibitions and collaborations with brands such as Kenzo and Barneys.

Published by Damiani Editions, Toiletpaper Volume II: Platinum Edition is a best-of selection from its past five issues and serves as a visual manual for creative perversion. Inspired from quotes by Cattelan and Ferrari, SSENSE presents a supplement for the committed reader: The Ten Commandments of Toiletpaper. (Directions not included.)

1. Perversion is an almost imperceptible deviance from what is considered normal.

The line between sanity and insanity is a dangerous one—because it doesn’t really exist. Same with perversion and normalcy. Like two models sitting in a living room: normal. But look again. They’re covered entirely in clear plastic: perversion. The only difference is a translucent piece of material, and that is the beautiful deviance. 

2. Laughter is the Trojan horse to enter into direct contact with the unconscious.

It is a benevolent superego that allows the childlike ego to indulge in humor. It has reason not to—laughter can reveal more in a moment about the guise of normalcy you have been working for years to cultivate.

3. Trigger visceral reactions.

It’s an honest mistake. You weren’t actively reading the magazine and it caught you by surprise. Your body reacts physically–your eyes snap shut, you gasp, you jerk your head. In that moment, you are more alive than you were before. They have gifted you adrenaline, free of charge. 

4. Free yourself from austerity.

Lying gracefully upon his back, the skeleton is enveloped by a selection of the finest cuts of raw meat. This is a celebration of excess. Analogically, of course, we’re referring to images. In content and number, alive or dead—consume Toiletpaper.

5. Boredom is counter-revolutionary.

But fun is radical. The woman delicately birthing a chicken egg? Fun. The man draped in sauced spaghetti and a smirk? Funny! It’s the Toiletpaper revolution. 

6. Morality is never invited.

In a famous play about blackmail and corruption, Oscar Wilde wrote that morality is “simply the attitude we adopt towards people we hate.” So it would seem that morality and love are inversely dependent. We upvote love and fun. (Please see commandment #5.)

7. Never vow anything—because you don’t know what will be next.

A vow is a prescription. Be careful!

8. Stop yourself from falling into the ravine of obviousness, parody, and the grotesque.

This is perhaps the most important commandment of all. Blatancy, mockery, and overt grotesquery are all easy roads to follow to superficial success. Avoid at all costs. 

9. Ignorance is sincerity.

Ignorance is amazing—it is total freedom. It disregards promises, logic, and rules. The more ignorant the artist, the more sincere the product.

10. Be (ir)responsible.

Don’t misread us. We don’t mean irresponsible. We also don’t mean responsible. Gross. (Ir)responsible allows for nuance, ambiguity, and subtlety—the parentheses are the imperceptible deviances between normalcy and perversion. 

Text: Emily Friedman
Images courtesy of Toiletpaper: Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari