Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things I Don't Understand: Meta-Bathrooms

See this lovely picture on the left? No, it is not a photograph of the bathroom set up in our new apartment. In fact, it is a painting of a bathroom - a nicely decorated and organized bathroom, to be sure.

In fact, this picture, purchased at Homegoods by ASoG, is hanging IN the bathroom of our new apartment.

I don't get it. Why have we, and by we I mean Orthodox Jews, adopted a standard practice of

displaying art of bathrooms IN bathrooms?
I didn't grow up with this practice. My parents never had pictures of any sort hanging up in any of the bathrooms in their home, whether in any of our personal bathrooms or the guest bathrooms. Instead, we always had interesting wall paper which usually featured some sort of intricate design, or little artistic portrayals of scenes of a particular theme.

Since I have become more well-traveled, particularly in the New York area once I began attending YU, I saw art of bathrooms in almost every home I visited. For example, the bathrooms in President Richard Joel's presidential estate feature art of bathrooms in the bathrooms.

In truth, I did see this phenomenon in one place in my hometown - inside the local mikvah which I saw on my pre-Yomim Noraim visits. For some reason, this makes more sense to me than having bathroom paintings in a regular bathroom. But the point still remains:

Why do we do this?

What is the reason why we have this strange obsession with being meta-expressive by having bathrooms in bathrooms? It would be ridiculous if there were pictures of bathrooms in the pictures of bathrooms that we have in our bathrooms.

Per ASoG's insistence - and not that I really object, since I didn't have a better suggestion anyway - we've joined the bathroom art in bathroom club. She couldn't quite explain why this was the most appropriate form of art to display in out bathroom, but it is something that everyone else seems to do. I remain confused.

Can someone explain it to me?


  1. My house as art in the bathrooms - but florals, mostly.

    I'm kinda with you on this one.

  2. It adds to the "bathroom ambiance." A bathroom feels larger and more like a bathroom if there are more images of bathrooms in it.

    Kind of like how putting a large mirror makes the space also seem larger than it really is.

  3. I love arts in bathroom, it gives a certain feel to the air. My bathroom back home is more like a library :)

  4. An Orthodox thing?? Never heard of it. Seen it in Reform homes, though.

  5. Ruchi Koval - I haven't really been in many Reform homes to check, but I've only seen it exclusively in Orthodox homes.

    Regardless of the "sect" behind the madness, I still want someone to explain why we do this in the first place.


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