Monday, September 13, 2021

O MERDE! O SHIT! A temporary exhibit at Quebec City's Museum of Civilization

While in Quebec City, on the suggestion of my friend Michael Seelig, I visited Moishe Safdie's Museum of Civilization.  It is an impressive space, reminiscent of some of Safdie's other galleries with some interesting permanent and temporary exhibitions. However, one of them was most intriguing, an exhibit on feces. Yes feces. Here's some more detail from the website 

Feces, excrement, turd, dung, caca, dump, stool, shit, defecation, bowel movement or crap… Call it what you will, poop is a taboo and misunderstood topic. Often referred to with rawness, it's well acquainted with comedy, but rarely is it addressed seriously… Yet, there is so much to be said and learned about this universal organic matter! Everybody has to go, regardless of their social ranking, their gender or beliefs!

In these times when food, nutrition, well-being and body consciousness are overflowing the media, poo is altogether "flushed" from cultural and social discourses.

What about diving in headfirst to better understand its social history, the issues at play and how it can be put to good use?

Although its name might change, reactions triggered by poop are basically the same for most people: disgust, denial, dread or disinterest. Nevertheless, fecal matter is part of us and our daily lives. Stools can tell a lot about our health, our eating habits, and even more about how we relate to our bodies and intimacy. Furthermore, it is also the root of sociological and environmental issues we wouldn't even imagine. Did you know that a large part of human population does not have access to sanitary toilets? That some women in developing countries risk their lives every time they need to defecate? Understanding poop and how we deal with dejections can lead to understanding how we live as humans.

You'll discover all of this in the five zones that make up this bold exhibition. As you move from one to the other, the way you look at what is turning out to be the world's most underestimated and inexhaustible resource changes. Get wind of the issues surrounding its management, right here in Québec and around the globe. Learn about sanitary crises and issues, as well as hope surrounding the possibilities of reuse of human waste.

A strong corpus of ancient and contemporary objects, gathered from the Museum's collections as well as foreign lenders, embodies the circuit's intellectual and nuanced scientific discourse. There, among other topics, you will cover history, anatomy, intestinal microbiota, anthropology, as well as contemporary ecological, social and environmental issues. Let's not forget its representations in the Arts! Because, believe it or not, shit can be inspiring!

If you are in Quebec City do check it out. It is on until March 2022. 

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