ISSN : 2266-6060



In the 1960s, an American sociologist, a Reverend, inspired by Erving Goffman’s work, decided to conduct an ethnography of the urinals in a small town. Then, homosexual relationships were prohibited by Law. It was therefore in those public places that some men, who wished to have sex with other men, encountered secretly. For several months, he observed these practices, carefully noted actors doings, accurately describing interactions: gazes, gestures, movements. In his study, there was no writings because of the great fear to leave proofs of breaching the Law, and because of the strong risk of infamy.
Fifty years later, in the men’s toilets of a hotel on the East Coast, unzipping, I discovered, first attracted by a fly in the urinal, a small peace of paper pinned against the flush button. In the closed toilet rooms, one sometimes finds a cigarette butt, a syringe, sometimes illicit products, rarely a gun (except in movies) and always graffiti of a sexual nature. In the open urinal (Duchamp’s one) there are barely gums and some hair. No writing at all I thought, until the discovery of this enigmatic butterfly. What message was he carrying? A phone number, an email or was it there only to stall the button and simply allow the toilet to function? Multifunction writing.

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