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Process Record (Blog)

Can You (Still) Hear Me Worrying In The Bathroom

andrew.mandinach@gmail.com

So I'm not quite sure where to start, so I figure I'll jump right into it.

I have stomach issues. I say issues because I'm not quite sure what to call it. When I was younger we used to call it stomach-nerves. After a traumatic incident my senior year of undergrad, it was diagnosed as partial IBS. It has since been diagnosed as full IBS. I still call it my stomach issue because IBS isn't just about what you eat (although that's a big part of it), it also includes those "nerves" - that my dad penned early on - caused by anxiety and stress. I'm a worrier. I always have been.

I spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Not just my bathroom. Or the bathroom at work. But the bathrooms I've been forced to consider that I wouldn't have otherwise ever known about. The Target bathroom in Westminster, off the 405S. The 2nd floor bathroom in the Art of the America's building at LACMA. The bathroom of the Ralphs on Ventura in North Hollywood. Regardless of what they're like, I'm forced to experience them. Sitting. Thinking. Worrying. Am I taking too long? How long is the line outside the door? When will the banging start, urging me to get out? What interesting tile work. I hope that's just water on the floor. What's happening on Twitter? I guess I could post a picture for homeLA now. Etc.

As far as making work for/in/about my experience in bathrooms, it just sort of just happened. Of course the idea came to me while sitting in a bathroom. I thought about starting an Instagram account, as an archive of public restrooms, of places I'd had these intense intimate moments, and if it grew, I could connect to a community of folks experiencing the same thing as me, suffering in silence. I thought about making it funny, or sharing facts. I considered taking pictures from the toilet, keeled over in pain. Of the toilet? Maybe I'd caption the ambiance of the bathroom. Maybe I'd talk about the index of pain I'd felt in each space. Then homeLA // Angelino Heights. I had already done a piece in a bathroom during homeLA // San Marino, but it didn't have anything to do with my stomach. I liked the idea of doing another bathroom piece, but trying to visually represent my experience didn't seem like the right approach - not yet anyway - and I thought it'd be interesting to represent my experience through what goes on in my head. Let someone else hear it and experience space the way I do.

Having done that piece and now continuing the series for homeLA // Rose Hill, I have to say, it's a nice way to work through this issue of mine. It's such a big part of my life, but I don't like to talk about it. Even with most friends. It still feels embarrassing to do so. This process of creating has been very liberating, to literally give voice to an experience that's been so isolating. It's scary to have something hit you out of the blue and despite the time or location, you're forced to race the clock to try and find the nearest bathroom. Even when you get to the bathroom there are so many questions; the consideration of space as you sit and stare. The thought of the world beyond the door you've barricaded yourself behind. My work is about giving myself the freedom to talk about my issue, enlighten others of an experience most likely different from theirs, and in doing so open up new ways of thinking about bodies within any space.

Andrew Mandinach, September 2016