New York is always the city where everyone has seen it all and nothing should surprise a true Manhattanite. As of late, the art world has gone to the toilets, literally. Ladies and gents, step right up because if you’re “going” to see art – it is at the sacrosanct of all spaces where you could be going for real, the bathroom.
Last February, I attended a group show and when I was able to locate the bathroom at the gallery, it pleasantly gave me a nice video installation to enjoy while doing my business. It was surreal and I had to concentrate between looking at the piece above the toilet then making sure I did not miss my aim. Is this some wacky fad that galleries are trying on for shits and giggles? This may not have been to everyone’s taste, but art is subjective, so it is understandable. It sounds strange, but after visiting this gallery, it did inspire me to potentially switch up some aspects of my bathroom. I even went as far as looking into something like a Kohler Santa Rosa Review, as I wanted my bathroom to look a little more like the one I saw at this gallery. Art is about being inspired and that is what I took away from my visit. I guess there is no reason why a bathroom can’t be both artistic and highly functional. I would suggest that is what most people would like their own bathroom to be like. I guess one way of achieving this would be to inquire about some Home Automation Installers helping you. I have seen some wonderful examples of bathrooms equipped with things like flat screen TVs which is really cool.
Then I end up getting a tip from a gallery that they have their own bathroom extravaganza. I was intrigued and “flushed” with anticipation. What is this hot mess going to be? There is something subversive and titillating about unconventional spaces to show art. First of all, the bathroom does not exist in an art gallery. It does not exist if you ask them as if anyone who works there don’t have a gall bladder or the urge to pee. The room where the most intimate and disgusting business anyone can ever do is far from the white cube sanctity where the art resides. They must never intersect.
Rooster Gallery dared to make that bold move in showcasing the talented work of Italian based artist, Arianna Carossa. It is a nod to the Romans who constructed the public baths as a place to congregate and socialize. Nowadays, using the bathroom is a solitary experience. Breaking the conventions and reframing the mind comes into play when Rooster decided to stage the work of Carossa. It is called Waters where the quotidian use of the towel or sponge is voided for the sake of artistic design. The practicality has given way to the artistic intent. The cut out holes on the draped towels render the object useless and therefore should only be viewed as mere art pieces. Dichotomies and juxtapositions abound where it challenges the viewer. Private vs. Public. White Cube vs. The Black Hole. Appropriate vs. Impropriety. Clean vs. Dirty.
Is this conducive to appreciating art? Well if you have to unload all prejudices and what you hold in gets released then the bathroom becomes a symbolic stage or catalyst to facilitate such matters. The absurdity of the idea sparks debate and raises questions. Well isn’t that the function of art anyway? To foster exchange of ideas or to reframe the way you think then what better situation and location than the good old bathroom.
Think of it this way if you’re still pissed off about the idea, the gallery bathroom is a space hidden from view so it is an exclusive enclave where few get to ever see. It is a rare opportunity to even dare to ask as few even get access to it. When you finally get the keys to the kingdom – you go in alone and it is all yours to take in. Isn’t this the most premium experience to view art intimately and privately?
By far, this is the most democratic and equalizer of notions when it comes to art. We all end up in the bathroom at some point in the day. Let’s not relegate this room with crappy connotations and dump on it. Art elevated the space. World-class art can be enjoyed in the porcelain throne room. How regal and lofty it can be if we just get past our own prejudices and puritanical ideas about this most necessary but unmentionable room.
I came. I saw. I sat. The idea has merit and the art itself did not stink so it was quite an experience. Therefore, I endorse that art goes to the toilets. I look forward to more jewels in this latest project room at Rooster Gallery. If art in the loo is not your thing then just go in, use it for what you intend to do then flush it away from your memory. No one’s the wiser but your ass.
Arianna Carossa: Waters was on view at the Bathroom Project Space last March 26 – April 19, 2014. For more information about future projects, visit the gallery website: www.roostergallery.com
To view our first ever bathroom interview with the artist, please click on the video link below:
Article by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Photography and Video by: Max Noy Photo