Durham, N.C’s luxury boutique property, 21cMuseum Hotel, known for it contemporary and avant-garde art changed its bathroom signs Friday following the passing of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2. This new law requires people to use public bathrooms that match their birth gender, excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections and bars cities and counties from extending such protections to them.
The hotel’s public bathrooms are prominently displayed above the restaurant’s bar with individual stalls behind glass. When the rooms are not occupied, one can see the toilet and sink. When locked, the bathroom glass shades and offers privacy. In response to the new controversial bill, the hotel commissioned new signs by Kansas City, Mo. artist, Peregrine Honig, that shows a merged male-female silhouette above the phrase “We Don’t Care”
21c Museum Hotel stated in a Facebook post announcing the new signs, “21c Museum Hotel was conceived as a space where contemporary art – sometimes whimsical, sometimes inspiring, often challenging – can be transformative; a venue for exploring what is relevant today through different lenses. We cherish artists’ ability to lend unique and powerful voice to distinct perspectives on the most important issues of our time. We do not strive for unanimous acceptance of the works, but we hope the experience will facilitate conversation. Unfettered expression is the heart of our mission. Individuality is the cornerstone of our culture. It is in the spirit of these values, and with commitment to our community, our guests, our employees, and the artists whose work we display, that we share this statement: It is demoralizing that sanctioned discrimination could be a cause contemplated, let alone endorsed, by public officials elected to represent a diverse and complete constituency. We are proud that the vibrant city of Durham is home to 21c Museum Hotel, and we humbly stand with fellow North Carolinians who petition the repeal of House Bill 2.”
Each bathroom sign is a work of art, numbered and signed by the artist, titled We Don’t Care. The title refers to the position of ‘all are welcome’ or we don’t care where you go to the bathroom. The artist feels that the installation gives the community another way to engage in conversation around this important issue.
“I was reading trans and non-binary responses [to the bills] on social media and had the thought that there is something precious and intelligent about not caring. That eventually we will experience a generation of people who don’t care about where people go to the bathroom. I would like the sign to become standard until we simply remove gender from bathrooms completely. Large changes take small steps.” said Peregrine Honig about the art she has designed.
About the Artist: Peregrine Honig is an American artist whose work is concerned with the relationship between pop culture, sexual vulnerability, social anxieties, the ethics of luxury and trends in consumerism. Born in San Francisco and raised in The Castro and in Project Artaud, Honig moved to Kansas City, Missouri, at 17 to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. Honig’s work is included in private and public collections, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University Art Gallery, The Fogg Art Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, 21c Museum Hotel, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Diane and Sandy Besser Collection, and Ball State University Museum of Art. In 1997, Honig started Fahrenheit Gallery, an artist-run space in Kansas City’s industrial West Bottoms, where she showed artists with national and international reputations and inspired other young Kansas City artists to do the same.
About 21c Museum Hotel: As North America’s first museum devoted solely to the art of the 21st century, 21c Museum Hotel is committed to featuring a rotating program of thought-provoking solo and group exhibitions that reflect the global nature of art today, as well as site-specific, commissioned installations. The exhibits are open 325 days a year. Free guided tours are offered on Wednesday and Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.