Yesterday the recently restored Keith Haring mural "Once Upon a Time" was opened for public viewing at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street.
The mural was painted in 1989 on the walls of what was then a men's bathroom. "Completed months before he died of AIDS," writes the Center's website, "this mural is perhaps Haring’s most personal and resonant expression of sexual jouissance."
That jouissance means you won't see the likes of it being reproduced on any Houston Street walls--the work is chock-full of penises and sperm.
The fairy-tale title speaks perhaps to a lost innocence and sexual freedom dashed by the AIDS crisis.
To walk into the Haring Bathroom is to enter a monochromatic fun-house of fucking. Anything goes. Above white toilet tiles, curling around water pipes and ductwork, headless male bodies twist and entwine with giant phalluses. Tiny men shoot from the ends of penises to splash soggily onto the backs of other bodies.
Penises grow human heads with mouths that suck the toes of other human shapes that in turn contort into Mobius-strips of sucking, performing Escher-like convolutions as one body part morphs into another. Negative space becomes positive. Hollows turn into solids that penetrate other hollows--assholes, mouths, and other unnameable orifices.
A ceramic sign in the wall insists that you "wash your hands before leaving this room."
The Haring Bathroom will be open to the public until the end of March, when it becomes a meeting room again.
On March 30, the Center will wrap up their month of Haring events with a free screening of the 1990 documentary Drawing the Line, followed by a panel discussion featuring the artist's friends and contemporaries who "will offer their memories about Keith Haring, the 1989 Center Show, the East Village scene, and the art world that once was."