Guerilla artist celebrates toilet cubicle graffiti as ‘purest form of expression’

The anonymous creative stages his four-day multimedia exhibition, Sh!t Show in “the graffiti hotspot of Shoreditch” in January.

The area was famously Banksy’s stomping ground in the early noughties and the takeover of 133 Bethnal Green Road recalls pop up exhibitions like Turf War in Dalston.Ham & High: The exhibition will feature a soundtrack, a film, sculpture and canvases alongside a door with graffitiThe exhibition will feature a soundtrack, a film, sculpture and canvases alongside a door with graffiti (Image: Karma Khazi)

The show’s centrepiece is a black door with 63 pieces of graffiti, all pulled from London cubicles and featuring liberal use of swearwords and toilet humour. Other pieces include fibreglass pub signs, sculptures and 63 canvases reflecting the graffiti’s messages.

Music created at Courtyard Studios featuring Radiohead, Gaz Coombes, and The Stranglers, and mixed at Abbey Road will soundtrack the exhibition, and a short film by BAFTA winning filmmaker Lee Phillips sheds light on the work and its origins.

The show muses on the modern age when debates over free speech and cancel culture abound, and there’s an unprecedented audience for personal opinion. Karma Khazi – an alter ego for a successful artist –  will invite visitors to create their own contributions with areas set aside for them to add anonymous messages, drawings and slogans, which will form part of the collection. 

Ham & High: The show includes canvases inspired by found messages on toilet doors across LondonThe show includes canvases inspired by found messages on toilet doors across London (Image: Karma Khazi)

“I always felt as though Shoreditch was the spiritual home of Sh!t Show. It’s a place where graffiti is a huge part of the culture and it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate the work of anonymous graffiti artists from all over the capital,” he said.

He added that the show celebrates “the purest form of expression,” and believes toilet cubicles are the forerunner of social media.

Ham & High: Some of the artworks use swearwords while others are enigmaticSome of the artworks use swearwords while others are enigmatic (Image: Karma Khazi)

“When you go into these cubicles, you sit down on the toilet; look at the back of the toilet door and see all the social commentary people have written. 

“You’re in this private realm and it’s the one place where anything goes. You can say what you want without being conscious of a backlash. Those marks that people leave behind are typically somebody’s most impulsive expression.

Ham & High: Karma Khazi is an anoymous guerilla creative the alter ego of a successful artistKarma Khazi is an anoymous guerilla creative the alter ego of a successful artist (Image: Karma Khazi)

“It’s kind of the final frontier of free speech. Even with social media, it’s not that easy to just say what’s on your mind any more. Something you said 10 years ago can be brought back up and you’ll get into trouble for it, and suddenly you have to apologise and go back and delete everything.”

Sh!t Show runs at 133 Bethnal Green Road E2 from January 26-28 and is free.

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