The toilet is a reminder of our primal bodily functions as we confront ourselves at one of our most insecure states of being. Each tile displays a stall graffiti Sophie Paranello and I extracted from the city of Pittsburgh and is preserved as its own unique piece by an anonymous artist.
Its manifestation as a tile and commercial artefact testifies to a newfound permanence that comes together and exposes an underlying crudeness produced in these spontaneous, delicate moments of humanity. The pieces find themselves in between the contradiction of individual expression and commercialized presentation by setting it in a gallery, which is traditionally known to uphold artwork in good taste with high value. The Bowels of Humanity is a conversation about the politics of art, privacy, and surrounding social taboos.
Graffiti is scrutinized, praised, and formally disruptive. It's available to anyone with no credentials and it's said that areas with more graffiti creates the idea of less structure and encourages law breaking. I wanted to zoom in on something we come across often and dismiss as simple vandalism.
We started the project by fishing for graffiti at our school by taping butcher paper and tying a string and a Sharpie together. Then we moved on to bathrooms in bars to look for graffiti. The resulting project was a pop-up gallery experience scrapped together in the hallways with velcroed tiles on painted wood.
The tiles were for sale, and all proceeds were donated to Arts Out Loud Pittsburgh, an organization that aims to empower young people living in under-resourced communities through the arts, while providing local artists with the tools to develop projects and teaching opportunities that emphasize community engagement.