Eirinn Lou Riggs MFA Print Media Thesis 2020
In Lieu of Filth: The Bathroom as a Queer Object
The bathroom is a space meant to contain the seemingly private or “disgusting” pieces of human existence. This idea of a room to contain our filth negates the reality that humans are in fact brought into this world covered in bodily fluids and remain “dirty” creatures throughout our lives, despite often trying to hide it. The Westernized notion of cleanliness, privacy, and heteronormative gender coding stems from a complicated religious history that has been challenged in many ways, in large part by the LGBT community and others seen as “outcasts” or “degenerates.” Since bathrooms came into existence in the 1600s, gay culture has coexisted within these spaces and the two continue to align today. How can the bathroom serve as a metaphor for the experience of exclusion? This paper will examine how the Western history of bathrooms and queer culture—and the exclusions of certain histories—relate to my own visual artwork and queer identity.