Sunday, March 14, 2010

Relief & Expression|Public Restrooms @ UW

Jonathan Jue

In today’s urban environment public restrooms have become synonymous with scribbled messages, poetry, and drawings. Why do people feel so inclined to deface public space, and why does it seem to occur almost everywhere you go? I decided to investigate this phenomenon more closely on our very own campus, and came to some interesting conclusions.

Public restrooms are inherently designed to provide people with a certain amount of privacy; scribblers take advantage of this secluded environment (whereas writing all over the walls of an exposed area would probably have some sort of consequences). This privacy also gives people a sense of anonymity and freedom to express themselves freely. Bathroom messages are often illicit and uncensored. Also unsacred and unprotected, these works are open to future artists’ manipulations, making public restrooms a perfect setting for collaboration.

Not many venues have such a guaranteed audience. Conceivably the reason that public restrooms have taken on so many functions is because of the necessity of them in this urban environment. Consider this the next time you walk in to a pubic restroom, maybe what you’re really entering is a meeting room or an art gallery.

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