The Sh!t Show Art Exhibition Advocates for Accessible Public Restrooms in Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH – 12/21/23 – In a move to address the critical issue of accessible public restrooms in Cincinnati, The Sh!t Show, a groundbreaking group exhibition of over twenty regional artists, is set to open on January 12 at PAR-Projects. The show transforms toilet seats into non-functional works of art, aiming to shed light on the consequences of the lack of accessible public facilities.
The artists utilized a diverse range of materials to reimagine the toilet seats as works of fine art, including paint, light effects, projection, and digital screens, pushing the boundaries of conventional artistic mediums. “This is an important issue to address, and I am excited to contribute to an exhibition that highlights where we can be more considerate of the basic needs of humans in public spaces,” shared local artist David Estep.
In addition to the contemporary toilet seat pieces, The Sh!t Show features a nod to local art history. Three urinals, created by Robert S. Brown and showcased in a local exhibition responding to the infamous Maplethorpe show at the Contemporary Art Center in 1990, will also be on display. Brown, who passed away in 2022, was a former board member of the Contemporary Arts Center and past president of HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal). Local artist Michael Boyer is reinterpreting one of the urinals in a cross-generational collaboration, bridging the gap between past and present.
This exhibition follows a long history of toilet-based artistic activism dating to Marcel Duchamp’s groundbreaking work, the R. Mutt urinal, which challenged traditional notions of art in the early 20th century.
The Sh!t Show concept also has a history. First staged by curator Jeni Barton in 2018 at The Pendleton, the inaugural show featured 13 works by 12 artists and attracted nearly 300 visitors. “While the artists and guests were passionate about the cause, it was not tied to an official call to action,” said Barton. “I wanted to turn the awareness into action.”
After the show, a friend referred Barton to Cincy PHLUSH, a local chapter of the nonprofit organization Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH). Founded in the Pacific Northwest, PHLUSH is dedicated to advocating for toilet availability and one of their initiatives is the promotion of Portland Loo bathrooms. The City of Cincinnati, inspired by PHLUSH’s efforts, opened a Portland Loo at Smale Riverfront Park in 2015. The group continues to work to bring more accessible public bathrooms to Cincinnati. Current efforts are focused in the Northside neighborhood. This made PAR-Project’s Northside location a perfect fit for the show.
“PHLUSH is excited to be a part of this creative effort to bring awareness of the need for 24-hour public restrooms,” stated Justin Jeffre, Co-founder of the Cincinnati chapter of PHLUSH. “Artistic activism could help Cincinnati become a grown-up international city that is accessible for all.”
The Sh!t Show underscores the urgency of addressing the lack of accessible bathrooms, not only as an inconvenience for the general public but as a dire situation for over 500,000 Americans struggling with homelessness and individuals with health conditions such as Crohn’s disease or IBS. The exhibition aims to raise awareness about the societal repercussions, including the rise in Hepatitis A linked to exposure to outdoor human waste.
The opening reception of The Sh!t Show will take place on January 12 from 7-10 p.m., featuring music by DJ Mech and a live performance by local rap artist ¡Jay Hill!. The location, PAR-Projects, has a long history of presenting thought-provoking exhibitions and large-scale collaborations throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
“PAR-Projects is incredibly excited to host this exhibition at The Gallery at Sudeō PAR” stated PARs’ Arts & Programming Coordinator, Gabi Roach. “With our mission of empowering diverse communities of people who believe in the arts, we often use collaboration as a tool and we are honored to put on this show in conjunction with Cincy PHLUSH.”
Join us at The Sh!t Show to experience the power of art as a catalyst for social change and engage in the crucial dialogue surrounding accessible public restrooms. Together, we can work towards a more inclusive and compassionate community.
Melissa “Mellkat” Mitchell
How to attend:
Opening Reception: January 12, 2024, 7-10 p.m.
1646 Hoffner St.
Closing date: January 26, 2024