“Wash your mouth out with soap!” my mother would exclaim.
I remember irresistible mud pies as a child, of voluptuously slopped soil, clad upon and between sticky fingers like chocolate in a fascinating entwine of desire and disgust. I desired what disgusted me, and was disgusted at my own desire. Outside the immaculate interior home, I indulged in my secret lust for filth. In free pursuit of my desire to touch the untouchable – the dirty – I transgressed my way to shameful freedom; plunging my fingers, fists and arms into troughs of cold, visceral gloop; at once appealed and appalled. I remain flirtatiously enticed by the word ‘soil’; both noun and verb.
Transitioning from the natural outdoors to the interior family home I’d encounter bunches of flowers confined within clean-cut vases; edited of their roots; a denial of the dirt they stemmed from, and the dirt to which they shall return. The flowers themselves the sexual organs of the plants; yet the words for our own sexual organs branded ‘filthy’, ‘dirty’, and unspeakable. I’d gaze upon the wallpaper-clad walls in the interior version of the exterior world; natural motifs, repeated to form cage-like patterns; the wild, controlled. Yet nature is, in its nature, uncontrollable.
Here’s to unearthing the hidden; to speaking the unspeakable; to giving the muted a voice. Here’s to flipping our comfortable understandings on their head; to questioning conditioned beliefs, to the hidden beauty of where we’ve come from; here’s to our mothers.
Part of The Learned Pig’s Clean Unclean editorial season, March-May 2015.
Image credits (top to bottom):
Jonny Briggs, Monstrare, 2013
Jonny Briggs, Envisionaries no.11, 2013
Jonny Briggs, Super Natural, 2012
Jonny Briggs, Pierced edges, 2014
Jonny Briggs, Organs, 2015