Toilet Design, The Visceral, and Zizek at Volta [Art F City]

It’s a grey frigid Thursday, and the cold is not quite dizzying.

Pier 90 juts out onto the Hudson River. In poetry, the volta is the sudden change, the modulation which shifts emotional pitch or cognitive focus. During Armory Week, Volta is the art fair of galleries presenting artist solos. Though I’m unfamiliar with many of the galleries participating, I know immediately the first thing I want to see: my bladder begs.

As relief washes over me, I think of Zizek’s observation that the presence of ideology can be found in toilet design.

The French—hasty purgers—put holes in the ground in the back of the room. With the old German design, the hole was in the front of the bowl, creating a shelf for the ritualistic inspection for traces of illness. Anglo Saxon toilets, the pragmatic middle, have bowls filled with water, so the shit and piss will linger, then get flushed away. At Pier 90, the toilets are near the entrance, more by chance and flexibility than by design. Maybe the toilets at art fairs are imbued with the ideology of hyper-mobile capitalism—and maybe I am thinking far too much about this.

Read on

(Published in Art F City, March 5, 2016)

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