Cannon Center for the Performing Arts
Memphis, Tennessee, 2003
When a guest enters any one of the eight public restrooms in the
Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, he or she will find what
appears to be an arrangement of toilet tissue rolls on its floor.
The arrangement of approximately two dozen rolls will vary from
bathroom to bathroom. They may be stacked in vertical columns, stacked
to form latticed pyramids, or stacked in stair-step fashion against
the wall. Each restroom will have its own unique variation.
At first one might think that a prankish child, bored with the evening's
performance, has slipped away from the parents and raided the janitor's
closet. But upon closer inspection, it will be discovered that,
instead of an unlimited supply of toilet paper, these are humorously
site-specific minimalist sculptures that exploit the same principles
of repetition and variation that Donald Judd or Carl Andre might
have applied to steel cubes or firebricks in the sixties and early
seventies. In this case, however, there is an undeniable conceptual
relationship between the imagery and the location, which is playfully
antithetical to some of the basic premises of minimalist art.
The sculptures will be cast in aluminum and painted white in order
to give the appearance of actual toilet paper rolls. Each will be
mounted directly to the floor with placement determined by a combination
of aesthetic and practical concerns, including sensitivity to the
needs of guests with disabilities.
This project is very much in keeping with my belief that all the
beauty, courage, sadness, humor and absurdity of the world is preserved
in ordinary things. By means of exaggeration, visual puns, unexpected
juxtapositions and other devices, I hope to recharge the half-forgotten
objects that fill our lives. It is my intention that those who encounter
this series of bathroom still life sculptures will never quite look
at a roll of toilet paper in the same way. After all, isn't there
something both funny and profoundly disconcerting about toilet paper
cast in a hard substance?