Toilet graffiti may be the world's most under-appreciated art form, but that's about to change thanks to an exhibition coming to east London in 2024.
Artist Karma Khazi (and we'll go out on a limb to say we don't think that's his given name) went on an epic 250-pub crawl around London in just five days, taking photos of the things people had scrawled on cubicle doors, before transforming these into an exhibition — Sh!t Show — coming to 133 Bethnal Green Road in January.
Rather than being a bog standard display of the photos taken by Khazi, Sh!t Show comprises almost 100 works of art inspired by the graffiti he discovered, including re-imagined pub signs, traditional paintings and stained glass windows. The centrepiece is a single, black door featuring 63 of the 'strangest, funniest and most thought-provoking scribbles' he discovered in London. The show also features this short film made about the project, as well as a special soundtrack. Plus, in the true spirit of things, visitors to the free show are invited to pick up a pen and scrawl their own messages, drawings and slogans (keep it clean, yeah?).
Khazi — who bills himself as a connoisseur of the toilet door — says the project is a celebration of "the final frontier of free speech", and having glanced some of the be-scribbled mottos, people really are saying whatever is on their mind. Public slayings are a popular theme, and while some are strictly NSFW (hello 't**t c**t'), others are more creative, for instance: 'Yer ma drives a Smart car around Leyton' or 'Big Leroy Stretches My Slippers'. There's also a healthy dash of positivity, whether support for Queens Park Rangers, or the message 'Trans Love Is Beautiful'. Unquestionably so, which is more than can be said for the bold claim that 'Yoko Ono Killed John Lennon.' Don't believe everything you read. Especially if it's written centimetres away from where thousands of people have defecated.
Says the artist: "You’re in this private realm and it's the one place where anything goes. You can say what you want without being conscious of a backlash. Those marks that people leave behind are typically somebody's most impulsive expression."
Be warned though: the exhibition is a flash in the (toilet) pan — on for a mere three days. After that, Karma Khazi plans to do similar shows in other countries, starting with France: "We’ll go to Paris next and that show will pull back the veil on an entirely different way of thinking," he says.
Sh!t Show by Karma Khazi, 133 Bethnal Green Road, 26-28 January 2024, free