sarajevo, toilet, notes


Toilet – the language of toilet galleries
toilets as galleries by default
An in-between encounter
A performative space that is invoked by users.

To be read only while at toilet?


In Skenderja, Sarajevo, there’s a space declared as:
“toilet gallery”.

The gallery came up 7 or so years ago, and seems to present a rather permanent show of Nadaism.
Bring ignorant in Bosnian, I thought the term referred to Nada in spanish. Since the visuals are on the conceptual minimalistic side – it seemed Nadaism as nothingIsm.

Then it transpired the intent was Nada – hope – in Bosnian.
Hence a new questioning connection came to Be:

How is it between Hope and Nothingness?

The person who is responsible for the toilet gallery and it’s nadaism show, is Enver Hadžiomerspahić.

Enver used to be the director of Ars Aevi. I was told that since experiencing a rather personal devastating event, Enver has taken to do stuff at his home and despite being a rather locally known public figure – is doing stuff privately.

With the connection to the toilet gallery in mind, it seems another take on the private-public.
A question for me:
How to respectfully engage with a person’s activities, or traces from activities that happened to be in public – while knowing the person might rather not be engaged?
More over, since I perceive something they do not – eg 2 unrelated elements that intrigue me non the less –
how can one create through that very connection, without posing a gesture that violates the other’s perceptions?

(the 2 elements being the private/public aesthetics of toilets and of Enver’s work post personal tragedy)

Personally, one of the more evocative places in sarajevo, for me, is the toilet gallery.

On 16.10.18 i visited a group exhibition opening hosted by
There, artist Smirna Kulenovic covered the only toilet with kitchen foil, placed a faded/ghostly-like portrait of themselves under water in the bath, placed a camera pointed towards the toilet and played a sound that caused the foil to periodically vibrate.
This was a setting for people to unwittingly – or otherwise – perform, as this was the sole toilet in the place.

In a sense, this can be said to have been another take on the practice, just down the road, of toilet gallery.
The toilet became the site that operates as a situation for humans to perform, rather than a place that is used for the tag “gallery” – for objects to perform.

Can we not say that while toilet gallery operates as an exhibition space, while the foil covered bathroom/toilet presented an institution – that of the toilet.
Hence the question of How do humans imagine the performativity of toilet-usage – became the subject?

A bit like when getting people to visit a cleaned up gallery as the show – makes the visitors become the show’s subject.
A kind of situational rather than relational proposition since the the interest is focused on the reaction to a given situation rather than an interaction that, in itself, creates an event or situations.

e.g. the old story of greek and chinese artists attempting to better one another.
one group filled a room with sculptures, another cleaned a room.

I think this toilet situation brings another question to mind when i want to search from the public-personal sensations.

Is the public-personal question not a bit of a chewed gum when it comes to toilets?
Perhaps, yet it prays on my mind somehow.

Let’s consider a few elements..

1 (public norms, culture)

The toilet as a cultural meeting place.

The language of dating:

Lets have a date in a toilet?
A restaurant toilet?
A public one? Perhaps a pop-up toilet by a tree in the park?
A toilet at someone elses’ home?

Indeed, which sounds more fun?
having intimate encounters with someone who you feel cool farting with
someone you feel unable to fart with

Lets knock on people’s doors and ask to use their toilet – indeed, who will you let in to your home and allow to use the toilet?
(will be ok in scotland..)

1.1 (personal, public, historical)

Per Rembrandt’s Bathsheva taking a bath –

The personal is shared with a servant/maid
The lover is there through the letter. Since it’s a demand for her affections – not a request – the man/woman performative play enters the personal spacetime.
Bathsheva’s body seems limp in resignation

for realising she is in some strange connection with another human who is nearly faded into the background?
Or since she has just realised the letter as a reminder of how being perceived as a particular thing-woman, devours the human-woman within one’s self?

Indeed, can it not be claimed that we get here into bath/toilet spacetime of life altering realisations?

Written in a toilet?

2 (hygiene, culture)
Functionally, the toilets are for cleaning.
We defecate – we clean.

As we clean, there seems to be a tendency to be behind a barrier, a screen between a single person, in/dividual – and a perceived otherness. Be it humans, machines (eg cameras), or indeed other animals.
How would you feel defecating while being watched by a cat? a dog?

How is it when the who process is that of poo production? Anything being cleaned? Something else?

3 (Privacy, Piracy)

Toilet piracy, in the sense of privacy – is some kind of an operation that is taking away the said privacy.
This piracy might not necessarily place one’s privates in a public display – it could simply offer that possibility. Share the toilet experience with those you trust?

Being in a relationship involves, at times, some kind of being open during defecation times.
However, that kind of openness works both ways – in that sense we get a feeling of equality.
However, equal or not – will the door remain open while having a bit of a disagreement?

3.1 (intimacy with objects)

Suppose the toilet collects data about you for your health.
You show yourself to the toilet, the toilet provides you with tools for a better health.
Sounds equal enough too?
How about that defecation data being shared with possibly interested people?

A “smart toilet” company might fancy selling the data to some other organisation.
Are we in toilet piracy time here?

4. (personal, performative, preconception)

Having an appearance of somewhere between a sexually non threatening to non-specific being, perhaps provides me with a certain access to toilets and their cultures. For example, I can equally find myself in a women’s toilet, or as a designated person to keep men away when women use the mens’.

East Flanders.
Seems people tell each other what they will do in the toilet.
When I said that I was going to the toilet, the reaction was something like –
what for?

Suppose one didn’t want to inform they piss or shit – should they lie for the sake of public performance?

5. (performative, personal, group)

Women might use men’s when the public privacy of women is being ignored by culture or society.
Here’s a tip – at the end of a movie, play and such like, is there a rather long queue forming at the women’s toilet?

5.1 (public norms)
Can it be that women tend to both require more toilet space and times?
Is it curious that when equality comes, public toilet designs tend to be of an equal size rather than be concerned with equality of considerations for differences that seem to inform the very sex separation in 1st place?

5.2 (public and personal fearlessness)

Do we really need the sex and gender division when we get to public toilets?

6. (performative)

Queues – standing in a queue, is that a sort of a public performance?
A toilet queue, does it say:

I need to do something very private?
While one might feel comfortable with that – i know others, and mainly kids – that find the experience a bit on the embarrassing side of memories.

Socio cultural
Let’s begin with something that seems relatively remote and insane, the apartheid era separation of toilets by sex, and skin colour.

I think it helps highlight the idea of performativity – as well as that of when socio cultural perceptions might encounter, violently or otherwise, the personal.

Say a person didn’t feel very “white” – which toilet should they go?
Is it not too dis-similar with a person who might Look a bit like a woman – but rather use the mens’ toilet?

6.1 (kinds of frictions)

It seems the questions and examples of public, private cultural frictions with public toilets is that public toilets come with a bit of a baggage when it comes to cultural and artistic questions.

Here’s another work that operates in that friction –

7. (public, cultural, historical)

James Joyce used to sit in toilets, listen to people and pick up phrases they deemed interesting. Perhaps even stories. Joyce also had a bit of a poo sex fetish..

Writing and reading in toilets is much wider than Joyce. Consider graffitti in toilets –
both written and read in personal spaces.
This is some kind of messaging captive audiences.

In some ways one might argue that knowing there will be an audience for your scribble, might encourage placing a mark or two?
Toilets as instant galleries?

8. (public private culture histories)

How Romans wiped their butts after going to the bathroom.


A few more links to toilets in various cultural ways?

Heimat explores the philosophy of toilets for Hornbach

A Brief History of the Toilet


The art of the student toilet

Misc links of possible curiousity?

Roman publicly shared personal bum cleaner

Humans taking images of dogs pooing

11 Dogs With Ridiculously Dramatic Pooping Faces

N (out of a false dichotomy?)

Until this point there’s a clear focus on public-private sort of duality.
When dualities seem to pop up it reminds me of a closed circuit that is unable to resolve itself.
Something fishy is going on.

Perhaps the sensations of public-private are intimately linked with other sensations that, once considered, alter the dynamics between public and private?

Say, something that was at the background all the time – the sense of refreshing, aka cleaning?
Is it not curious that we eat through mouths which are dirty, and defecate through private parts that are in fact generally very clean?

Is it not curious how food, as energy,  along with oxygen and liquids, form a continuous chain to the rest of life?

Suppose we didn’t need to breath, eat and drink?

We keep transforming energies one way or another. Some people find it abhorrent to eat in the toilet – as if the input-processing-output is too quick.

Let’s have a toilet food party??

Here come the 1st link at the top, that of a video game in a urinal?

The poesis of metabolic processes – the energy usage, receiving, manipulating and producing through frictions.
The metabolinon.

We can have processes that come beyond the public private duality. Say we play a game online –
if some players are in toilets – does it matter until one considers it?

..and when a consideration comes, it seems like that which was not, suddenly becomes and materialises.

Like the 2 lovers who never said I love you. ..and Once said, their love popped into oblivion. (happens more often when people love and then get married, but not as good an illustration..)

11. (activities)

The sensation oriented language from public-private-ness toilet style? We go From such sensations rather than be bound by them – hence both questioning:
the necessity of private-public-ness
the idea that the 2 offer a closed circuit duality.

shared through:
Questions to people using propositions to do with connections of public and private defecation.
Turning the notes – as well as publicly shared questions – into an evolvable language.

Drone Dancing
Sharing the language online.
Linking the language with DNA data translation*
Linking the translation with injecting said dna data to flowers*.
Linking the language to the toilet gallery as an offer through private/public qrcodes.**

Hard to miss red poppy flower spots in sarajevo.
These painted spots appear where a person got killed during the civil war.
Flowers, once being picked, face a rapid death process – yet they operate as symbols for life, re-newal, and care as they seem to offer visual and at times scent – delights.
I never “got” the idea – since the keep dying in my mind.
Nontheless, the sensations of flowers, of being a flower, might be said to be of the very Interval from personal and public. Afterall, the plant just fancies their seed being carried off by winds, insects or which ever does it best. The flower’s visual appearance, for example, is just a function between being themselves and their public. If a yellow flower would have done better in red – chances are that they will either alter colours, or would have been red to begin with..

Hence it seems, to begin with, the proposition of a flower dna – both sarajevo specific and more universal – is rather apt for storing bits of this public private sensation language

The qrcode?
Current nadaism show has a bit of a visual appearance that might link well with that of qrcodes.
basic qrcode

qrcodes could contain a direct link to the language website. hence operating well with continuing the language while in the toilet.

However, how about the sharing, and questioning public private with one’s body?
why not use qrcodes beyond their technical functionalities?

Lets offer the qrcodes as bits?
Like the text in current show is cut, at times, the qrcodes could offer web address in a cut form. (see image at the section top)

Hence to get the whole url, a person will have to move from one cubical to another?
(this links with notions of art linked stuff being “pieces” – always a piece rather than the lot. seems to be the term for art in Polish..)

The toilet gallery – to exhibit.
Toilet as a gallery – the operation of being a toilet becomes the carrier of sharing in pulic. even if that question of sharing toilet times is in fact what is being placed in this cultural discourse.

This requires a bit more materials of, from and by the imagination
when one imagines a flying toilet, one is considering a possibility outside the very imagination. they use imagination as a play area, a lab, to test ideas for implementation.
How very Hegelian?
Lets move on to 21st century?
When we imagine a sensation set from the connection between – lets take a kitch example like: a public toilet’s place and it’s history – we have an imagination that can only be experienced as an imagination.

In fact, I’d claim that materialisations of such imagination oriented sensations, produce new sensations, other than that which was attempted to be shared.

I would like to imagine fearlessly with my imagination – as well as yours, if it’s ok.

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