The purest form of art

9 04 2012

Dear World,

Since writing on toilet walls is done neither for critical acclaim, nor financial rewards, it is the purest form of art. Discuss. 

Note to all GP or English teachers: This is a potentially genius question.

Note to the world: I am actually going to try to answer this question. Stop reading now if you just chuckled and have no intention to discuss this quote which ( I think) was written on a toilet wall.

There are many reasons why people go into art. These reasons range from gaining material wealth or fame to the need for expression. Most art is meant to be appreciated and shared with others. Unfortunately, the respective industries fall into the trap of consumerism, limiting the amount of art people have access too. Art in public places such as the loo in this particular instance proves to maintain the fundamental function of art; to be open to critic or appreciation and shared without personal gain to the artist.

Art displayed in public toilets receives little to no world wide fame or recognition. Compared to big budget movies and platinum records, scribbles or sketches on toilet walls are not celebrated with a large award ceremony. To put it in a crude manner, there is no ‘Annual Toilet Awards’ where the art works and their creators are celebrated and recognized for their efforts unlike the Grammy’s or Golden Globe awards. Without such incentives and credentials, artists have less pressure on them to create a piece of work, being a poem or drawing, that will meet everyone’s standards or put them in the lime light.  With the lack of a competition, art works tend to be more organic in nature and hold more emotional truth than some of the works presented by actors, singers and artists alike.

Also, toilet walls provide a quick and easy medium for free expression among budding artist or even the general public. A small scribble make by one person may have some effect on others as they use the facilities. People become less shameful or shy about their inner artist especially when they can remain anonymous . The lack of recognition on a regional, national or even global level makes many more daring to display their various works of art without having to fear criticism or rejection.

Like the statement suggests, there is no one – or at least, no records of people- making a profit out of their pieces they have displayed in the public loo. You may have to pay the occasional 20 cents to use the washroom but those funds usually go to maintaining the cleanliness of the area and not for encouraging the local loo art scene. There has been no headlines saying that someone made a fortune of ‘toilet art’ and it might be a while until it does make it to the papers.

Unfortunately, to call art on toilet walls ‘pure’ would be ironic especially since to do it would be considered vandalism of public property. In some countries, like Singapore for example, you can receive a fine of litter or vandalism if you are caught and at times, fines can reach up to $1000. Toilet art can be seen as a form of destruction of property and art should be something that builds and not ruins.

However, art on toilet walls remains ‘pure’ in the sense that it is free of corruption from money-orientated managers or agents and is a free gift to share with the community. I still would ask these artist to know the line between art and destruction of property. Art should help enrich lives or beautify the area, even if it is done on toilet walls.

That’s the best I could do in like 45 mins.





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