What's filthier than having restrooms named after you? Not much! And it makes perfect sense that the honoree is filth elder John Waters. The "Pope of Trash" has bequeathed his 375 pieces from his personal art collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) with the agreement that its "East Lobby" restrooms be named after him. BMA will also honor the eccentric filmmaker with "The John Waters Rotunda" in the European art galleries.
Waters sees the gesture as similar to the impulse that resulted in "Fountain," Marcel Duchamp's famous 1917 sculpture of a urinal.
"Renaming the bathrooms was my idea right from the beginning," he said. "They thought I was kidding and I said, 'No, I'm serious.' It's in the spirit of the artwork I collect, which has a sense of humor and is confrontational and minimalist and which makes people crazy."
…Waters had personal relationships with many of the artists he collected, and the meticulous files he assembled on the artworks will be part of the bequest. The gift agreement also stipulates that an inaugural exhibition of Waters' collection will be held by the end of 2025, and that five artworks, including one created by Waters, will be prominently displayed in the museum at all times.
Waters is already having fun imagining which pieces will be on view — and in which parts of the museum. The John Waters Restrooms, he thinks, might be a logical choice. The filmmaker began to mentally run through his collection and tick off the possibilities:
"I have a piece by Tony Tasset called 'I peed in my pants,'" Waters said. "There's 'Wedged Lump' by Mike Kelley that looks exactly like a giant turd. I also have George Stoll's chiffon toilet paper.
"I have a lot of art that would work in a bathroom."
The article also reports that, as a boy in the 1950s, Waters purchased a "$2 poster of a Joan Miró artwork from the museum gift shop and taped it to the bedroom wall of his Lutherville home."
photo by Chuck Patch, taken in 2018 at BMA, CC BY-NC 2.0