Doug Beube
Wash

2019
Ceramic soap dish, handmade soap, metal
6 x 30 x 7 installation
The installation alludes to a universal parental threat I recall from childhood: “If you say that word again, I will wash your mouth out with soap!” Though my own parents never actually said or did this, the phrase was common in the popular culture and, as reported by friends and acquaintances, was precisely the punishment enacted in their youth for using “dirty words” or being “foul mouthed.”

In the immediate post-Holocaust era, into which I was born and by which my early awareness was partly shaped, the AIDS epidemic, slavery and the human race ultimately needed to invent new words to connote the purposeful, organized, and orchestrated mass slaughter of peoples founded solely on racial or ethnic categories—based on their “otherness.”Following the genocide of millions under the Nazis, during the era of the Serbian War and as recently as the Rohingya living in Myanmar, among others, we added “ethnic cleansing” to our common vocabulary to describe the rape, maiming and murder of tens of thousands of people. In the Jewish and Rwandan holocausts, for example, the “other” was systematically labeled as “vermin” and “cockroaches” to instill, as well as reflect, the distorted belief in mass consciousness that the only rational or acceptable reactions in the face of such “filth” are derision, persecution, extermination and cleansing.
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