Toilets in Modern ArtWritten by Angelique van Engelen
Travelers tend to frequently take cleanliness of toilets as indicative of how civilised a country might be. Modern artists pretty much do same thing. Defining a "threshold of civilization" by means of a toilet pot is however by no means simple. Neither is it likely to lead to a conclusive, once and for all outcome. On contrary. When we are faced with a toilet pot as focal point for debate, arguments rich of historic content emerge. Arguments that we realise we digested somehow only as and when we enter into debate. The first toilet to make its way into art world was pushed to its rightful place by means of a trick, which is, if you think about it, only way to do it. Toilets are embarrassing, not shocking. If an artist manages to outshock embarrassment he’s likely succeeded in getting specator to point where he is transferring his emotions to spectator’s mind, not merely associations of excrement. The spectator would never make this adjustment if he wasn’t somehow confronted however. So in 1917, Marcel Duchamp, stagemanaged a necessary coup both on public and art world itself when he, under pseudonym "Richard Mutt", purchased a porcelyn urinal, scribbled, or rather ‘splashed’ pseudonym on it, placed it on a pedestal and entered it as a sculpture in an exhibition organized by New York Society of Independent Artists. The piece was rejected by jury without discussion as ‘no work of art by any definition’. It took a few decades, but this act was eventually confirmed as birth of concept art, even though artist might have never meant anything more than to show what art had become. He resigned himself to doing nothing. Many of his ‘ready made’ art objects have been stolen or destroyed and resistence in society to anything Duchamp was seizeably big. It was only until 1960s -since rise of Concept Art movement- that concept of ready made art became an accepted art form. In magazine ‘The Blind Man’, Duchamp defended his toilet on basis of him chosing an ordinary article of life, and placing it so that its useful significance disappeared under a new title and point of view. Creating a new thought for that object made it into art. “Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made fountain or not has no importance. He chose,” Duchamp argued. At this present day debate has evolved some more and now there’s regular debate about whether art is actually not so valid if it doesn’t boast at least some degree of placid vulgarity. The Russians Ilya and Emilia Kabakov might offer some ideas. These two Russians are undoubted king and queen of out-of-all-proportion installation art that deals with bleak side of Russian everyday life. Many of their works are represented in collections of many of world's major museums. In 1992, they too created a toilet work. ‘The Toilet in Corner’ is an exact replica of a Soviet toilet provincial style for an exhibition in Germany’s Kassel, named Documenta. The massive installation was built outside exhibition building in German city just like they would have been in provincial Soviet Russia. The toilet marked an important point in Kabakovs’ careers, who had lived outside Russia for a number of years when they made toilet installation.
The Fabulous FiftiesWritten by Vicki Clark
The Fabulous Fifties By Vicki Clark ©2005
By time Korean War ended, in 1953, fifty thousand Americans had returned home in coffins. With end of War came President Eisenhower's promise of a bright future for United States. It was beginning of an economic boom unlike any in history of Country. For first time since Great Depression of 1929 America was not in crisis. During latter part of 1953 mass consumerism was on rise and money was in bank. Americans moved up to "middle class" at rate of one million a year and real wages were rising at an unprecedented 4.5% yearly. It was a time of conformity when men, dressed in gray flannel suits and white shirts, went to their white-collar jobs and women kept home fires burning in their pastel, "cookie cutter" houses of America's new suburbia. Life centered around stability of home and family and 97% of marriageable men and women were married, it was a couples society and they were all having children, baby boom was in full swing.. Americans began their love affair with TV during early part of decade and by mid 50s 3/4 of them owned a television set and spent 1/3 of their waking hours watching I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Jack Benny, Queen for A Day, What's My Line, Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand. Consumerism flourished as television ads convinced viewers of need to keep up with "Jones'" by owning latest gadgets and goods. For Black citizens, in midst of this new American prosperity, life remained unchanged but change was in air. The 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education was among most significant turning points in development of our country. It dismantled legal basis for racial segregation in schools and other public facilities by declaring that discriminatory nature of racial segregation ... "violates 14th amendment to U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal protection of laws," The southern states resisted integration. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks, weary from an exhausting day of work as a seamstress, boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She sat in black section at back of bus but when white seats had filled she was told to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa Parks refused and in so doing became first prominent figure of what became Movement. The twenty-six year old minister, Martin Luther King, Jr. led black citizens in a non-violent boycott of Montgomery buses. During boycott white extremists bombed Kings home. The boycott continued for 381 days until, in 1956, Federal Supreme ruled to desegregate buses. In 1957 President Eisenhower sent in 101st Airborne to accompany Arkansas Nine to classes at Central High in Little Rock. Three weeks earlier black students were prevented by white students, teachers and parents from entering school in spite of Brown v. The Board of Education ruling.