November • 22 • 2020

Jay Buchanan
Ekphrasis on Loo Paper 
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Gerhard Richter, Loo Paper, 1994, cibachrome photograph on white board, 27 3/4 × 26 in, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX.

The thing about loo paper

is it’s decidedly un-special.

 

Like it’s so ReadymadeTM

it’s literally made 

to wait till you…

 

need it

 

Sure, not all of it is created equal,

But 

all of it:

 

Adheres to a ubiquitous structural character

which calls up superficial psychoanalysis 

(when is a roll just a roll?)

encourages single-use consumption 

(think of the trees)

abstracts its myriad less-than-palatable use cases 

(Ch-Ch-Ch-Charmin’)

simplifies shipping solutions

 

Knows a strange intimacy

I mean

the things the loo paper knows

 

and

 

Faces the same fate.

 

It’s all there

Hanging from the wall

Reeling from last use

Ready for pulling, using, flushing

 

a painting

a roll

just waiting 

for the painter

to come

to photograph it

 

pour one out for Marcel D., friends

Fountain casts its

(cute, gimmicky, revolutionary, quotidian,

imposing)

shadow

 

I don’t think I realized

The virus meant Business

until the toilet paper supply chain

disintegrated

like the absolute worst

of the product it moves.

 

Doomsday-Prepper

flocks, droves, hordes

big box stores

“I better get some” before the Joneses

or

Shit Creek

 

The performance of plenty

yet unbroken in my lived history

save for some gas shortages under W.

 

before then I

had no idea what the bare shelves of a Target looked like

and they scared me

so I did get mine

more than my fair share

 

sitting home alone

beside Mt. Loo Paper

(and feeling guilty about it)

I realized I’d been had!

 

Like Andy’s Tunafish Disaster

Black and white photo

authenticate individuate sanitate

take some everyday thing and

wrap it up in sex

 

the momentary rupture of the

plastic-lined, uniform

crisp, inviting, desirable

grid of the supply chain

trucks upon trains upon boats

fantasy of always enough

 

It’s all about reproducibility, huh?

We take our labor of abstraction for granted.

Somebody’s making more money that way.

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Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, porcelain, 1917, replica 1964, 24 x 14 x 19 in, Tate Collection, London.

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Gerhard Richter, Klorolle (Toilet Paper), 1965, oil on canvas, 27 9/16 x 25 19/32 in.

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Andy Warhol, Tunafish Disaster, 1963, silver paint and silkscreen ink on linen, 53 1/2 in. x 69 1/2 in, Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA.

• • •

Jay Buchanan is an emerging poet, art historian, and performance theorist based in St. Louis. He studies performing objects, broadly conceived, working primarily in new materialism. His art scholarship is forthcoming in ASAP/J. He is also Managing Director of Idiosynchrony, a podcast qua collective sonic artwork.