Art

This Towel Covers Your Private Parts with Private Parts

Ken Kagami’s collaboration with THE THING Quarterly undresses censorship and body politics with a fluffy bath towel and an essay from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

by B. David Zarley
26 October 2016, 2:05pm

Ken Kagami, Issue 31, 2016. Photo by Anna-Alexia Basile for THE THING Quarterly

Few objects are as noble as the bath towel. It provides dryness and warmth when one needs it most and modesty when instant covering-up is comme il faut; it can carry a surprising amount of social weight, the secret flag of body politics. Then there's Ken Kagami's bath towel, printed in collaboration with the artist's issue of the quarterly art publication/zine THE THING, published by artists Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan, wherein one also receives a piece of art with every issue.

The white towel is covered in cartoonish blue scribbles of penises and vaginas, breasts and butts. More cute than comely, Kagami's body parts are done in his signature style, simple and laced with humor, bright eyes, and happy smiles adding an anatomically incorrect touch of absurdity.

Ken Kagami, Issue 31, 2016. Photo by Anna-Alexia Basile for THE THING Quarterly

Jonn Herschend writes to The Creators Project via email, “We have been fans of Ken's work for the past few years and really wanted to make something with him. I like the idea that one can read the issue as a comment on body policing and self-censorship, but it's really more about the goofiness of Ken's work, and a way to create an object that carries the comedy and tension into our daily life.”

For his part, Kagami finds the sensitive nature of the subject matter of his “Sexy Bath Towel” intriguing. “I find it interesting that people are so sensitive about this issues of censorship,” he writes. “I am not interested in creating a towel which pictures “real” genitalia. I like my towel because the genitals are humorous and cute in a pattern.”

Ken Kagami, Issue 31, 2016. Photo by Anna-Alexia Basile for THE THING Quarterly

Kagami's towel is accompanied by a zine featuring an essay from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Detailing the mythical origins of humor, and the genitals’ seminal role in everything we now call comedy, the essay drives home the hilarity of attaching strictures and stigmas to ubiquitous pieces of biological necessity.

“We wanted to present some sort of context for the issues,” Herschend writes of the inclusion of Rogen and Goldberg's essay, “something that would set it up for what it is, as opposed to trying to force a context. Seth and Evan seemed like the perfect duo for this. Their films balance raunch and sincerity in a way that no one else can do. In many ways, Ken's work also follows this same line of thought.”

Kagami's towel can be read as a tongue-in-cheek critique of body politics and corporeal censorship or simply literal as bathroom humor.

Issue 31 of THE THING ships October 25. Learn more about it here

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