CFP: “Intimacy Exposed. Toilet, Bathroom, Restroom”, 15.10.2018 (submissions deadline), Haute école d’art et de design (HEAD), Geneva
Toilet, Bathroom, Restroom
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Nacho Alegre (Apartamento Magazine, Barcelona)
Ignacio G. Galan (Barnard+Columbia Colleges, New York)
Renaud Haerlingen (Rotor-Deconstruction, Bruxelles)
Catherine Ince (V&A Museum, London)
Alexandra Midal (HEAD – Genève)
Marina Otero (Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam)
Joel Sanders (Yale University, New Haven)
Mariana Siracusa (Galleria Spazio, Milan)
“Toilet” is a euphemism, the fruit of a figure of speech rather than metonymy. In contemporary Western societies, this ultimate area of privacy found its name in a process of extension and social exchange. Our social need for polite and indirect expressions to designate a place dedicated to evacuation in a public context (e.g. trains, buildings and open spaces) transformed what was initially a piece of fabric into an item of furniture first, then into a room, and finally into a place filled with other things. It was only once the facility was incorporated in a room that the “petite toile” – that linen lining with laces resting on a shelf where vases, brushes and any other item required for personal hygiene were arranged – became a “toilet”.
Because of this transition from a two-dimensional item into an object, then a room, and finally an environment – which often acts as a meeting place – the toilet is a formidable tool to reflect on the current circumstances of interior architecture. It is useful in describing the private and collective characteristics of past and present health, sexual, clinical and hygienic devices. It is also a place where we can understand the exchanges between individuals and communities, subjects and behaviour, and even between bacterial-plant-animal organisms and humankind.
With various sizes and shapes, the toilet addresses the obscurity of the relationship between body and space. At the same time, the persistence of the French term, even in distant cultural contexts, displays its connection with the process of affirmation of personal hygiene that modernisation has imposed. A portmanteau word, the toilet has travelled the world. From time to time, it comes back and shows both proximity and distance from its aristocratic-bourgeois origin. This journey through manners, meanings and locations has also gradually produced an extension of the toilet to incorporate various objects, places and spaces. Antibagno (in Italian), boudoir (in French), closet (in English) are just three examples of the many environments where toilets have extended their domain over time.
The closer we look at the toilet, the more it looks at us from afar. The more we sit on it, the more we think of the world. It is in the boudoir that the Marquis de Sade developed his most radical manifesto and his philosophical discourse on freedom, morals and revolutionary religion: “Frenchmen, one more push, if you want to be Republicans!”. Architectural space is not indifferent to this, if it is true that Manfredo Tafuri produced a cast of the Sadian pamphlet to give a title to his famous article on the radicalisation of the political interpretation of architecture: “L’Architecture dans le boudoir”.
Call for Papers:
We are calling for papers to contribute to the seminar that will be held in the Department of Interior Architecture of HEAD – Genève on 11-12 December 2018. The invitation is open to all those who are interested in discussing attitudes towards sanitation and personal hygiene in domestic and public areas. The aim is to analyse the idea of toilets as both meeting places and places of personal hygiene as transgressive and informal spaces, or inevitably, sites of cohabitation. The seminar aims to collect contributions that reconstruct the recent past of domestic technology and the ambiguous future of personal and collective practices inside buildings.
Our aim is to study the contemporary use of toilets and their change in the use as a way of understanding different environments, furnishings, details and, objects; to observe and present models, examples, buildings, rooms, events, stories, artistic expressions and case studies that are able to show the always removed centrality of everyday needs that are fundamental yet hidden.
The seminar will be divided into separate sections, over which experts in the discipline will be invited to preside. Sessions will be held in English. Selection of the proposed contributions will follow a criterion of equality, guaranteeing gender equality.
Proposals for contributions should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and
email@example.com and must include a proposed title, an abstract (maximum 300 words), as well as the contributor’s name, professional affiliation (if applicable), email address and a short biography (maximum 150 words). Languages accepted: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish.
Please write ‘INTIMACY EXPOSED’ as the email subject.
Deadline for Abstracts:
Monday 15th October 2018
Notification of final decisions will be sent by Monday 29th October 2018.