MEET THE GUERILLA ARTIST TURNING TOILET GRAFFITI INTO AN ART FORM
Karma Khazi brings ambitious new show to Shoreditch in January
If you’ve ever sat in a pub toilet and passed the time by scrawling on the walls, you might soon be immortalised in a show that celebrates the art of the bog scribble.
Guerilla artist KARMA KHAZI travelled across London visiting 250 pub toilets in 5 days, photographing every message, drawing and mark he found on the cubicle walls. And now he’s creating a whole show based around the daft, offensive and downright ridiculous comments he saw.
Sh!t Show will open in Shoreditch on January 26th and centres around a single, black door with 63 of the capital’s best pieces of graffiti scrawled on the front. He’s also created around 50 canvases and paintings - each one dedicated to a single piece of toilet graffiti - and promises an environment at his show where visitors can create their own scribbles, adding to our city’s rich and celebrated tapestry of cock drawings, swear-words, promises to duff up the supporters of rival football teams and messages of undying love.
And that’s not all. The artist was followed on his quest by double BAFTA-winning filmmaker, Lee Philips, who created a short film about the whole shebang (you can watch it further down this page). What’s more, he also headed to Courtyard Studios in Oxfordshire (made famous by some little pop group called Radiohead) to record a soundtrack for the show, before mixing it at the legendary Abbey Road.
Karma Khazi uses the pseudonym to differentiate from his regular career as a very successful artist who has sold thousands of pieces around the world and was once named a Saatchi Gallery One To Watch. Is he Banksy? MAYBE.
And he says the show is about more than just daft sketches on the wall. In fact, he calls toilet graffiti the ‘purest form of free speech.’
“You’re in this private realm and it’s the one place where anything goes,” he says. “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.”
“It’s kind of the final frontier of free speech. Even with social media, it’s not that easy to just say what’s on your mind any more. Something you said 10 years ago can be brought back up and you'll get into trouble for it, and suddenly you have to apologise and go back and delete everything.”
Karma Khazi spent months trialling techniques in order to perfectly replicate the graffiti on his door sculpture. At first, he wrote it all on the door himself, before realising that it needed to be recreated as it was left - in the handwriting of the original authors.
He then set about painstakingly creating complex vinyl stencils of every piece of graffiti and painting over them to create the final piece.
“All of these people who wrote these comments, they were sitting on a toilet. They’re not intending on making a work of art. They’re not trying to contrive something. But what they are doing is creating a work of art. It fascinates me.”
Karma Khazi has big plans for the Sh!t Show movement, with London’s exhibition being the first of many. We’re told that after honouring our capital’s toilet wit, he’ll move to another city - potentially Paris - to find out what they say when they’re behind closed doors. New York is also on his list.
But for now, you’re invited to find out what our toilet doors say about our city’s psyche.
What can we expect? Well, we’ve seen some belting ‘your mum’ jokes, a homage to Fat Pat (who ‘woz ere on his b’day’) and even a shout out to Big Leroy (he ‘stretches my slippers’), but it’s not always as lighthearted as you might hope.
“Some of them are controversial as hell. Some of them are sexist, some of them are racist. This isn’t a place to condone any of that, but it’s a place to show how our society is shaping up right now, in an unfiltered way,” warns Karma Khazi.
So if you’ve ever dabbled in toilet doodling, there’s a chance you might finally be able to claim that your art has featured in a London exhibition. There’s only one way to find out - head over to Shoreditch between 26th - 28th January and see for yourself.
Check out the awesome video below and make a note in your diary for Sh!t Show - we reckon it'll be a busy one.
FREE ENTRY, Sh!t Show, 133, Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 7DG
January 26 - 28