A public bathroom is one of those places created for collective personal use where human presence is supposed to be obliterated for it to work flawlessly. If a definition were to be drafted beyond obvious functions, it could be said that a public bathroom is a neutral space where “communal” and “private” are meant to intertwine in harmony within the frame of anonymity. “Communal” though is a reality, while “private” is more a representation of the idea of privacy than privacy itself. This is assumed and accepted I think, just because of the need of such a space to exist.
It always seemed to me interesting that within the vacuum of a public bathroom walls, many would fulfill the urge of communicating to others through writing while urinating or defecating. Maybe because of an innate human need to transcend (like the writings on trees or historical/archeological sites: John was here 1937), maybe because of boredom, loneliness (and therefore a possibility for introspection or fear of it), anonymity and/or the certainty of an “audience”.
A public bathroom then, becomes the recipient of seemingly parallel activities of privacy (personal thoughts), commonality (audience) within the frame, again, of anonymity. But in this case human presence is not obliterated, and the practical characteristics of the space are challenged by other cultural practices.
The idea of “Privacy” is discarded as soon as it is assumed, with the anonymous practice of writing on the precarious walls of the stall.
FILOSOFIA DE RETRETE is an installation that resembles a stall from a public bathroom. A public bathroom from a school, state university, neighborhood bar, train, bus or gas station.
It is composed by a stall (door, frame), writing on the wall, and a toilet with amber polyurethane and human feces.
The writing will hopefully be a collective experience since the public would be encourage to sit and write.
Public bathrooms provide a place where we can anonymously express ourselves openly.
Anonymous will be the writings as anonymous are the human excrement embedded in the resin. Written thoughts on a bathroom wall or feces are not distinctive in some way, they are personal and intimate experience any of us can perform. Anonymity saves us from invasion and from a feeling of vulnerability. It also makes us shameless and daring (if you write something outrageous or leave the toilet unflushed nobody will know.)
Through the most ordinary vision we all have a couple of times, daily, FILOSOFIA DE RETRETE seeks to question the rules of etiquette in society, and “good” taste in culture as many times they are related to restraint and appearances as well as discrimination.