Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I took the opportunity this lunchtime to catch the Dirt exhibition at the Wellcome Collection - I work about 5 minutes walk away, it's been on since 24th March, so of course I waited until its very last day before getting along there.
They don't allow photography inside so I had to make do with a snapshot taken at the entrance to the building - I love this chap suspended from the ceiling!
The exhibition claimed to uncover the filthy reality of everyday life and used the British anthropologist Mary Douglas's observation that dirt is defined by its context (There is no such thing as absolute dirt: it exists only in the eye of the beholder.) The exhibition looked at six different urban locations to explore the subject of dirt, its threat to our health but also its necessity for our existence.
I couldn't spend long there but managed to pootle round the whole thing - of course I spent far too long looking at Snow's map of cholera and some fantastic analysis of weekly deaths in London by William Farr (once a mortality stats geek always a mortality stats geek). Apart from the street, London 1854, the exhibition covered the home, Delft 1683, the hospital, Glasgow 1867, the museum, Dresden 1930, the community, New Delhi and Kolkata 2011, and the land, Staten Island 2030. Fascinating and challenging stuff.