Within “On Target” I customized two toilets into educational booths. Since we got an assignment to work with a new bourgeoisie as a target audience (Tensta – a place where Tensta Konsthall is situated – is an immigrant district in Stockholm) for our exhibtion and toilets as a space to work in, my idea was to transform toilets into Educational Zone where Tensta visitors could have a short course how to become a new bourgeoisie if they want to and maybe move out of Tensta district to the better place.
Inspriration for this idea – my Russian relatives who like to visit WC with a new book or a journal. They really use toilets as an educational zone almostly every day. They just do not have time to read somewhen/where else.
The Origin of the New Bourgeoisie
Installation: 12 museum alike transparent boxes with various materials which people used for their needs before toilet paper was invented. Boxes are arranged as a timeline of the parallel history of toilets and museums.
Designer: Beatrice Brovia
The new bourgeoisie is a social stratum based on the 19th century social shift towards a new method of controlling citizens via public self-discipline and acceptance of hygienic norms. Upon facing the reality of an expanding urban population, these tools of social control became crucial. Citizens were expected to re-make themselves, so as to be more manageable members of an evolving society.
Notable public spaces, such as museums or fairs, became perfect “schools” where individuals implemented these new behaviourisms. Simultaneously, the government utilized the aforementioned tools to highlight a nation of advanced political reform and its stemming technical development. In conjunction, because of overpopulation, a new sanitation system was essentialized. Lavatories and public museums were paired as two parts of the same social project. In this social system of self-organization, bearers and spreaders of culture – a.k.a. the cultural intelligentsia – adopted the responsibility
to produce valuable offshoots. It would not be an exaggeration to admit that the origin of the new bourgeoisie is situated in historical aggregates of flushed toilets and public lavatories, as well as public museums.
The Sanitation and Education for a New Public:
The Parallel History of Toilets and Museums
1759 The British Museum, the oldest independent museum in the world, is founded.
1775 The first patent for the flushing toilet is issued to Alexander Cummings.
1778 Toilets are regarded as perfect when Joseph Bramah substitutes the slide valve
with the crank valve.
1792 Only nine days after the fall of the French Monarchy, a decree is issued deeming
the former Royal Palace a public museum, otherwise known today as the Louvre.
1848 In England, a Public Health Act is passed mandating an arrangement for every house
in the country – whether it be a flush toilet, privy or an ash pit.
1851 The Great Exhibition or the “Crystal Palace” becomes the first in a series of World’s Fair
exhibitions on culture and industry; it is held in London.
1851 George Jennings installs the first public toilets at The Great Exhibition.
1857 The South Kensington Museum in London opens. It is officially dedicated to serve the public
with a friendly admission policy for the working class.
1857 The first factory-made toilet paper is produced by Joseph Cayetty in the United States.
1869 The American Museum of Natural History is founded.
1872 French municipalities ask private companies to manage public toilets for a lease period
of 20 years.
1900 The number of public museums in Britain increase from 50 in 1860 to 200.
Sources: http://www.wikipedia.org, http://www.masterplumbers.com, http://www.toiletology.com, http://www.plumbingworld.com, http://www.victoriancrapper.com, http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org
Schubert, Karsten. The Curator’s Egg: The Evolution of the Museum Concept from
the French Revolution to the present day. London: One-Off Press, 2002
Bennett, Tony. The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics. London and New York: Routledge, 1995
The Concise Vocabulary of the New Bourgeoisie
Installation: text on toilet’s tiles.
Language is not only a tool for communication but a seal, marking a wide range of social strata. Regarding power structures, no unified language exists; rather: many languages live among each other. These same languages create borders between people, helping them formulate and maintain significant interests. Often, a person who belongs to a given community does not have to know what this-or-that notion means, as long as they approach or consider concepts in question under the umbrella of a designed perspective or set of circumstances, thereby placing oneself as a coined member of a desired group. Words are signs, as well as the clothes one wears, designs one purchases, architecture one admires and art one accepts. In “The Concise Vocabulary of the New Bourgeoisie,” I was interested in tracing trajectories of key notion-signs for the new bourgeoisie – a relatively fresh social stratum, where economic value is based on its “cultural capital” or the knowledge of how cultural
spheres operate. The first step towards becoming part of this new bourgeoisie is a thoughtful examination of its lexicon.