(Public) Bathrooms are weird spaces. Not only are they (mostly) engendered, but they also create a false sense of privacy. When you step into a bathroom stall, you momentarily create the illusion that you own that space; you shut the door, lock the bolt and claim the space for yourself. However, the fact remains that you are very much in public still. Introspection/Interruption seeks to remind you that the space you use for your own is, in fact, not your own. It forces you to look at somebody else (and possibly be looked back at.)
Jonathan Luke O’Brien’s photography captures the hyperreal. At times, making an homage to camp, his portraits capture the body and highlight it: its grace and imperfections are captured simultaneously. Blurring the lines between gender(ed) expressions with his "Butch/Femme" series, he seeks to surprise his audience. He is not interested in "traditional, boring" portraiture; he wants to push and get a reaction from his viewers.
When you come face to face with these photographs, what do you feel? Are you uncomfortable? Are you amused? What are the stories of these bodies and these people? What is your story?
Write it out.
Bathrooms are known as places of introspection and bathroom writing has been noted to be surprisingly poignant at times. This exhibition wants to channel that introspective, creative power. As much as the photographs’ subjects’ gazes intrude on your privacy, the exhibition gives you the power to intrude on their bodies.
What will you do?
Photographs by Jonathan Luke O’Brien
Curated by Alp Ozcelik
Dylan - Shower Series
The bathrooms in Faunce Hall have been used to put up the exhibition, with the exception of the women's bathroom in the basement and the gender neutral bathroom on the second floor. The women's bathroom was omitted to make space for Sally's exhibition and not to clutter the space. The gender neutral bathroom has been omitted because it doesn't quite create the public/private space liminality the way other bathrooms do: it doesn't have stalls but instead is a small singular room.
Prints of the photographs have been affixed to inside the stalls' doors so that they are not seen from the outside but the face the occupant of the bathroom when the door is closed. A Sharpie marker has also been put next to the prints using velcro strips so that users can write and/or draw on to the prints.
The curatorial statement has been posted in each bathroom, so that the users can see it beforehand but it is not certain if they would necessarily read it before going into a stall.
This exhibition is an experiment. It will let us see how different genders approach this intrusion. Will there be more vandalism on one part? Or will a certain photo get consistently more drawn on than others? we shall see.
Men's room, basement