The Rest Of The Room

Over the late fall and early winter I collaborated with SOU art student Jess Volk to produce a photography exhibition. Our project, The Rest Of The Room, is a visual cross-examination of what is written in the semi-private realm of gender-binary restrooms. Our final images feature physical marks that alter the messages contained within these semi-private spaces; these messages are inscribed into the various surfaces that populate restrooms in their respective manifestations.

Our process consisted of multiple expeditions around campus and Ashland in general. On these expeditions we’d enter establishments with the intent of closely examining the entirety of the two respective restrooms. Depending on the crowd present at each location, we’d either head right in and then leave, or hang out for a while to observe the scene and gauge the potential outcomes connected with entering restrooms with cameras. In this way out process mimicked the experience of the original author of the message: clandestine and wishing to avoid detection.

The final images were printed on standard letter paper and then pasted to the gallery wall with a liquid starch. In this way we were able to lift the messages from the wall of the restroom and re-inscribe them into the wall of the gallery for a wider audience to see: the rest of the room. By installing bathroom graffiti on the walls of a gallery we are bringing the two forums into conversation, as well as bringing into conversation the topics that the two respective binaries decide to inscribe in a public restroom.

Our decision to utilize standard letter paper over photographic paper was a conscious move to separate our project from the confines of the tradition field of photography; instead we sought to situate our work within the realms of sculpture, installation art, and photography. Pasting the images to the wall allowed us to avoid merely installing work on the walls, and instead allowed us to augment the walls by making the images a part of the wall itself.