Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life

18th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Wellcome Collection 24 March - 31 August 2011

Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life
24 March - 31 August 2011

'Dirt' will reveal the fascinating world of filth that remains one of the very last taboos.

Our major new exhibition takes a closer look at something that surrounds us but that we are often reluctant to confront. 'Dirt' travels across centuries and continents to explore our ambivalent relationship with dirt.

Bringing together around 200 artefacts spanning visual art, documentary photography, cultural ephemera, scientific artefacts, film and literature, the exhibition uncovers a rich history of disgust and delight in the grimy truths and dirty secrets of our past, and points to the uncertain future of filth, which poses a significant risk to our health but is also vital to our existence.

Following anthropologist Mary Douglas's observation that dirt is 'matter out of place', the exhibition introduces six very different places as a starting point for exploring attitudes towards dirt and cleanliness: a home in 17th-century Delft in Holland, a street in Victorian London, a hospital in Glasgow in the 1860s, a museum in Dresden in the early 20th century, a community in present day New Delhi and a New York landfill site in 2030.

Highlights include paintings by Pieter de Hooch, the earliest sketches of bacteria, John Snow's 'ghost map' of cholera, beautifully crafted delftware, Joseph Lister's scientific paraphernalia and a wide range of contemporary art, from Igor Eskinja's dust carpet, Susan Collis's bejewelled broom and James Croak's dirt window, to video pieces by Bruce Nauman and Mierle Ukeles and a specially commissioned work by Serena Korda.


Wellcome Collection
Wellcome Collection is a free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, it explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The venue offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, lively public events, the world-renowned Wellcome Library, a café, a bookshop, conference facilities and a members’ club.

Admission to Wellcome Collection is free - treat your mind to a visit soon.

Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE

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