Mounted digital C-prints, 30” x 30” and 30” x 40”
Spotless is a series of images that show ordinary bars of consumer soap altered by microwave and digital technologies. My process started with a taste memory: those moments in childhood when my mother washed my mouth out with soap, punishment for the crime of talking back. Awareness of her concern with the hygiene of my language eventually lead me to explore the history of cleanliness and soap advertising in the US and Britain – a legacy saturated with promises to consumers about civilization, racial purity, gender success and upward mobility. What I discovered is that within the story of global capital, concepts of Cleanliness have generated their own unique creation myths. This not only helps shed light on my mother’s desperate act, but also offers the sublime satisfaction of exploding icons of hygiene and purity into oddly eccentric and much less respectable consumer mutants.
- A clean nation has ever been a strong nation. (Sapolio soap, 1899)
- Darkness, dirt and disease are driven before it. (Sapolio soap, 1899)
- Cleanliness is the scale of civilization. (B.T. Babbitt’s Best Soap, 1880’s)
- Soap is a potent factor in brightening the dark corners of the earth. (Pears’ soap, 1889)
- Soap must be considered as a means of grace. (Pears’ soap, 1889)