Margaret Morgan is a contemporary artist whose work draws upon
feminism, structuralism, and theories of post-modernism. Her work takes
the form of installations made of plumbing systems; drawings in urine
and builder's chalk; and photography. Her art uses plumbing as a motif
to address histories of twentieth century art and life. Morgan's thesis
is this: In America's twentieth century hygiene was god and the toilet
its ambiguous icon. Shiny-bright, promising unparalleled cleanliness,
the porcelain fixture was fetishized for its gleaming surface. It was
also vilified for its inevitable failure to live up to that image.
Worshipped and reviled, the bathroom has been a cipher for the many
discomforts of modernity. As a figure equally prevalent in popular
movies and the annals of art history, in television and in quotidian
exchanges over the household chores, the toilet in the twentieth century
has been a catch-all for symbolic as much as bodily effluvia.
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