Space in the physical or topological sense is not a neutral endowment. It is actually traversed by the predefined purpose, the social conventions of this purpose and the symbol meanings attached to them. To put it directly: transitional space of public toilets most evidently transverses oscillation between dichotomy of abstract public – nobody’s and at the same time anybody’s, where on account of actual or projected appearance of others we regulate our own behaviour, and private/intimate in the context of which the specificities of the individual are allowed to “express”, and between legitimate patterns of concern for the hygiene of the citizens and specific relations of individuals to their own social, biological body, etc.
Toilet project #1 was created in collaboration of Dušan Dobiaš and Lucija Smodiš within the scope of curatorial collective Rezidenca Maistrova and is, as others in the series, an in-situ project in public toilets in Maribor. It is an artistic intervention which results as a dialog between artists and spatial context in which the latter becomes its constituent part. Specific feature of the artistic interventions is simultaneously that they interfere in social relations as the social relations themselves are already creators of specific spatial forms.
So the toilet project #1 through dislodging the spontaneous alternative communicational surfaces on the doors of male and female public toilets in Maribor railway station and their replacement according to the sexual key creates an intervention in documents of communicational exchange between the users. As intervention in social relations, its integral, and especially expressive part is also the reaction of receivers. In this concrete example the violent removal of the primary intervention – mostly sexist and homoerotic messages from the men’s toilets – by the females in a couple of days after the deployment.
Text: Kaja Kraner