‘Since writing on toilet walls is done neither for critical acclaim, nor financial rewards, it is the purest form of art – discuss.’
I once saw this written in a toilet cubicle; – how advanced is that compared to the usual diatribe of ‘Shelly is a slut,’ ‘Call (insert your own phone number or the number of someone you hate here) for a good time,’ ‘Maria loves John,’ ‘Simon Hall has got chlamydia,’ or something equally mundane. Declarations of love on toilet walls may well be cute, but I’ve got news for you darling; – unless you are in a same sex relationship, your other half is highly unlikely to see your thoughtful declaration. Nor will Simon Hall ever know that his unfortunate sexual health history is there for public viewing (may I remind you that we are in the ladies’ bathroom!)
This particular piece of art caught my eye but I was disappointed to see that nobody had taken the graffiti artist up on their offer to discuss. Now, as much as I like to study the walls of bathroom stalls, I have never actually partaken in the activity myself – my Mum would not be happy! And so, I couldn’t reply but I got to thinking about what I may reply with. The art of graffiti is (unless you’re Shelly or Maria or maybe Simon) usually anonymous and so this statement is true in that people are not commenting for acclaim or reward. Are we then, whole heartedly honest on bathroom walls? Is Shelly really a slut? Imagine if some of our literary greats started their careers on toilet walls. Or if world leaders and politicians campaigned in the form of graffiti – people might pay more attention to them. A different mode of communication!
I also got to wondering if toilet wall art and words, written by the general public, was the earliest form of social media. People appear to feel the need to share their lives and deepest feelings on the various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Was it these same people that previously wrote on the toilet walls, their deepest and darkest feelings and thoughts out there for Joe Public to read? Maybe writing on toilet walls was and still is the purest form of expression due to it anonymity which you don’t have on social media platforms.
Anything that you express in a toilet cubicle can eventually, unlike social media, be retracted. If Maria no longer loves John she has the option to cover this up with more equally witty graffiti, or she can hope that the bathroom will receive a make – over or the walls a scrub, resulting in her addition to the cubicle being removed. It is not so easy to remove statements that you have made on the internet – it can usually be traced and Facebook, in fact, likes to provide us with the memory, years after.
So, perhaps my response in the discussion to this may simply be ‘agreed.’ I think the bathroom is the one place where (usually) we can be totally alone and perhaps our truest self. Perhaps you were expecting something more in depth.
What would be your response? Since writing on toilet walls is done neither for critical acclaim, nor financial reward, it is the purest form of art – discuss…