Public/Private Interventions

November 8, 2006

Birth home toilet – critique

Filed under: Flaneur File, Ruminator's Digest — mastermistress @ 9:44 am

‘Birth Home Toilet’
A cover photo of the Ruminator’s Digest (Reader’s Digest) for the upcoming exhibition ‘Reason’s for Being’ – December 2006 at the Suter, curated by Grant Banbury

I took this photo of my family home toilet basically as is. My fathers favourite place to be as a creature of habit first thing in the morning. I still say there is no place like your birth home toilet to go and relax for a good ‘toilet’ session and still go there regularly. You can relax and be yourself, take your time. It is familiar. It has none of the anxieties of using a toilet belonging to someone else that is familiarly known as a toilet .. yet it is unfamiliar at the same time. There is no stranger waiting outside to use it or overhear you. You are at one with your own smells and sounds. It’s a shrine to an assortment of things that are tailor made to you, your family or have been in the past.

It is where I spent a lot of time as a child avoiding dishes and also reading the Reader’s Digest. It was also being fed with knowledge and was fruitful grounds for imagining the future with myself in it by reading the stories.
It was a starting point for the theme about reasons for being, of (appropriation) ingestion – assimilation – elimination the natural cycle of the human body and our experience of being in the world from a phenomenological standpoint.

Used metaphorically also for knowledge gained and the whole cycle of life. Of sifting out the wheat from the chaff in trying to live a good and fulfilling life – what one takes on and what one doesn’t physically, mentally and spiritually.

The shrine (or so I have called it) houses a marble statue of Venus de Milo that my mother brought home from a trip to Italy, which she has used numerous times since to make bronze castings of the same. She sits amongst toilet cleaner, fly spray and heavy duty commercial strength air freshener, plus spare toilet paper and empty rolls and an exposed toilet brush in its holder. On the floor is the everchanging stack of Reader’s Digests and my father reading glasses and an ashtray with a roll-your-own cigarette that has gone out. No doubt it is waiting to be lit upon my fathers next sitting with the nearby lighter. A statue of Venus – a high art symbol in amongst the crap of everyday life. A symbol of love in a childhood home where there was not a lot of physical love. I wonder why my mother chose her?

Reminiscent of du Champ, it isn’t really about him. It’s the end point of all living creatures as a part of the process of life.

The most difficult thing about this was the urge to change things around to be more aesthetic or whatever and to give it a good clean. It has excrement down the front of the toilet and the floor hasn’t been vacuumed in a long time – but it didn’t need to be done …. it told its own story. If I could have done anything differently, it would be to have it set up as a proper studio setting with lighting. But then, I kind of like the way that the light comes blaringly in the window behind like a halo – or a big finger of GOD .. as if this little room is ordained in some kind of heaven itself. The cover picture has a flesh tinted halo around the outside as if viewing it from ones own eyes … where it is possible to see the eye sockets and nose of oneself in the periphery.

The toilet. Silent receptacle of crap and urine. No one can avoid or escape it. Not Venus de Milo or the Queen, not Jesus. Everyone experiences it. If you live you must eat, if you eat you must shit, if you don’t shit you die.

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