The Politics of Small Things - Toilet Paper, Wood and Builders Plastic 2009.

The Politics of Small Things is a sculpture that consists of a Kitchen Table made from Toilet Paper mounted onto a large ornate Plinth made from wood, builders plastic and mounted on casters. It mimics that of Monumental Public Art while incorporating the ideals utilsed by the Polish Political movement of The Orange Alternative in the early 1980's. The O.A was an underground anarchic movement in Poland. Strongly influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism it organized happenings, painted absurd graffiti dwarfs on city walls and was one of the most picturesque elements of Polish opposition against Communism. Their form of street theatre, or improvised performance included the passer-by and the animators. It drew attention because it never was an organised opposition, it was never mobilised by or incorporated into any major political force. The Orange Alternative was a pure expression of Socialist Surrealism. In all its actions the O.A. enjoyed success and popular support involving ordinary people in actions in such a way that they did not have to take on the lifestyle of a militant and by outwitting and embarrassing the authorities, who maintained a system which relied on a single version of the truth for its survival.

 

The kitchen table in Poland, as elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc, represented a place where friends and people were able to meet and talk to each other.  This free zone was where one could speak one's mind without concern of the interaction between the official and unofficial, produced unusually warm and intense ties among family and friends. At the same period of time a toilet roll was an extremely rare commodity. On a number of occasions the Orange Alternative distributed toilet rolls as part of their happenings in attempt to draw attention to the standard of life in Poland. Utilising toilet paper as a unique material with its qualities of texture and weight allows a form of manipulation unlike other materials, combing the symbolic representation of both the object and the material to create a monumental work. The plinth is mounted on casters in order to allow the work to be easily wheeled to any part of the city or any building in order to celebrate this spirit of mankind. But as a Public Art work the piece is redundant, the everyday materials used in the work will not allow it to stand up to the everyday elements of wind and rain and its everyday materials make it seem ridiculous in the tradition of Monumental Art. In this respect the work conspicuously falls into the realm of the ridiculous.