Hygiene

Marek Cecula

1998

"The collection of work I produced at the European Ceramic Work Center

in Hertegenbosch, the Netherlands, derives from my recognition of the unique aesthetic aspects of ordinary day-to-day objects. I characterize the objects as "sanitary"  "hygienic", and "scatological." It appears to me that common objects, such as sinks and toilets, have a special place in our lives, because of their intimate relationship with our anatomy.

They are made to fit the body, to serve as hygienic pathways, to liberate us from substances which the body rejects. The white glossy porcelain material conveys a contradiction: it is a beautiful luminescent form and surface which channels and disposes the dirty, unwanted byproducts of our organisms.

 

     My observations have led me to creative improvisation on the subject of "hygienic scatology," exploring an area where our habits and manners are very personal and secret.

My work uncovers the multitude of associations evoked by the utilitarian world of toilet, sink, laboratory and hospital. But the forms and shapes are anything but useful: they are sensual abstractions of pitchers, medical tools, or perhaps, body parts. They carry an unsubtle erotic charge. They suggest the male and female body, orifices, and sex.

 

     The objects are set on stainless steel trays, providing a sensation of clinical sterility. They are constructed of white high fired porcelain, appropriate to evoking sanitary conditions. My three-dimensional interpretation of this subject implies a vast archive of associations to things we recognize and know from somewhere else. And, despite the aesthetic attraction of the undulating shapes, I want the observer to be confronted with this spectrum of associations. On this level of mental and visual interaction, an exchange of

values is set in motion, and ideas such as beautiful vs. ugly, clear vs. obscure, and aesthetic vs. threatening, bounce against and invade each others' terrain. Layers of association are added to the forms by meaningless words and numbers set on the edges.

They refer to industrial mass production trademarks but are in themselves nonsense.

     Beyond the sexual and scatological, these sculptures are also about illness and cure. The sterility of the displayed objects suggests a direct connection with hospitals, and the paraphernalia used in the battle against death. The inevitable foul rot of the dying body is opposed by an extreme response of hygiene. Our paranoid fear of death comes together with puritanical obsession attitudes toward sex, specifically today in the midst of the AIDS crisis." Marek Cecula

Photos: Len Prince, John Bessler

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 Ben Yehudas st 176, Tel-Aviv, Israel

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