Conference PaperPDF Available

Ah, squoosh it: decolonizing the colon



Squoosh is an effort to decolonize the gay colon from its governing politics of implicit cultural values; those that often necessitate performative interventions which predispose the region to sexually transmitted diseases during homosexual intercourse. In an attempt to be ‘clean’—largely an effort to rid the body of its nonhuman aspects such as organic materials and microbiome, cleanliness rituals such as rectal douching do more harm than benefit human health, and function to reinforce the dominance of othering practices and sub/dom hierarchies. In an effort to queer the view of cleanliness within the landscape of the gay body and its sexual practices, we imagine Squoosh as alternatives to harmful rectal douching, and reimagine choices equally beneficial to both human and nonhuman participants and their mutualistic wellness.
Dalila Honorato | María Antonia González Valerio
Ingeborg Reichle | Andreas Giannakoulopoulos
Ionian University Publications
Conference Proceedings
Interdisciplinary Conference Proceedings
Dalila Honorato
María Antonia González Valerio
Ingeborg Reichle
Andreas Giannakoulopoulos
Pagination - Cover:
Ioanna Logaki
© 2022 Ionian University - Department of Audio & Visual Arts
Corfu, Greece
ISBN: 978-960-7260-70-3
For all articles published in the book Taboo-Transgression-Transcendence in Art & Science 2020
that are subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence, copyright is retained
by the author(s). The complete text of the license can be consulted at
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copyright. The editors shall thus not be held responsible for any obligation or legal action that may
derive from the work submitted in terms of violation of third parties’ rights, whether intellectual
property, trade secret or any other right.
Recommended citation:
Author’s Surname, Author’s Name. 2022. “Title of Chapter”. In: Honorato, Dalila; Reichle, Ingeborg;
González Valerio, María Antonia; Giannakoulopoulos, Andreas (eds.) Taboo-Transgression-
Transcendence in Art & Science 2020, Corfu: Ionian University Publications, pp. numbers-numbers.
ISBN: 978-960-7260-70-3.
Available for download at:
in Art & Science 2020
Interdisciplinary Conference Proceedings
Scientic & Artistic Committee:
Irina Aristarkhova, University of Michigan, USA
Tarsh Bates, SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia
Sonja Bumel, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Andrew Carnie, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK
Petra Gemeinboeck, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
Andreas Giannakoulopoulos, Ionian University, Greece
Nigel Llwyd William Helyer, Macquarie University, Australia
Cosima Herter, writer and science consultant, Canada
Kathy High, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA
Dalila Honorato, Ionian University, Greece
Akihiro Kubota, Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan
Cvetana Ivanova, Re: Art and Science Research Foundation, Bulgaria
Reiner Maria Matysik, Burg Giebichenstein, University of Art and Design Halle, Germany
Marta de Menezes, Cultivamos Cultura, Portugal
Gunalan Nadarajan, University of Michigan, USA
Ingeborg Reichle, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
Gnter Seyfried, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
Klaus Spiess, Medical University Vienna, Austria
Dolores Steinman, University of Toronto, Canada
Jan Svenungsson, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
Polona Tratnik, Alma Mater Europaea, Slovenia
Georg Tremmel, University of Tokyo, Japan
María Antonia González Valerio, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Virgil Widrich, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
Pinar Yoldas, University of California San Diego, USA
Adam Zaretsky, Marist College, USA
Steering Committee:
Roy Ascott, Plymouth University, UK
Andreas Floros, Ionian University, Greece
Dalila Honorato, Ionian University, Greece
Gunalan Nadarajan, University of Michigan, USA
Melentie Pandilovski, Riddoch Art Gallery, Australia
Stelarc, Curtis University, Australia
Polona Tratnik, Alma Mater Europaea, Slovenia
Adam Zaretsky, Marist College, USA
Organizing Committee:
Dalila Honorato, Ionian University, Greece
Ingeborg Reichle, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
María Antonia González Valerio, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Zahra Mirza, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria
Communication Team:
Dalila Honorato, Ionian University, Greece
Andreas Giannakoulopoulos, Ionian University, Greece
Ioustini Eloul, Ionian University, Greece
Ioanna Logaki, Ionian University, Greece
Minas Pergantis, Ionian University, Greece
Roubini Oikonomidou, University College of London (UCL), Greece
Hoçâ Cové-Mbede, Motion graphics designer, Mexico
Giorgos Miliotis, Ionian University, Greece
Aristeidis Lamprogeorgos, Ionian University, Greece
Taboo-Transgression-Transcendence in Art & Science was conceptually born in
Malta in November 2015. The rst two conferences were held in person, in Corfu in
2016 and 2017. TTT 2018 transversed continents and celebrated its third version
in Mexico City. TTT Vienna 2020 became an online event.This book includes most
of the proceedings from Taboo-Transgression-Transcendence in Art & Science:
Pandemic Special. This conference emerged in the climax of an economic crisis,
Greece’s Downfall, as an act of necessity to do something provocative in a moment
when the general message was the denial of all sorts of support for research and
art production. In 2020, in the heart of a pandemic and within a clear biopolitical
crisis, the position adopted was one of resistance: gathering of any form will always
be an act of activism. Moving online was a major challenge; when we decided to
take that step we were not fully aware of all the risk factors that were waiting for
us ahead. It was not easy, it was laborious before the conference and extremely
stressful during the conference days where 200 speakers met virtually in a 72 hours
non-stop streaming program. The analytics and the numbers tell us that TTT2020
Vienna/Online was a great success. Active users watching 24 hours a day for three
days, 400 unique visitors each day from 45 di󰀨erent countries from all around the
globe and strong engagement with hundreds of smart comments - what else would
one ask for a ourishing international conference? These numbers outreach the
previous editions of TTT and lead to the conclusion that the online format denitely
supports increased attendance and participation. But we want more.
The fourth international “Taboo – Transgression – Transcendence in Art &
Science” conference took place November 26–28, 2020, in Austria and online all
over the world, hosted by the University of Applied Arts Vienna with the support
of the Interactive Arts Lab of the Ionian University. Including theoretical and art
practice presentations, TTT2020 continued to focus (a) on questions about the
nature of the forbidden and aesthetics of liminality as expressed in art that uses
or is inspired by technology and science, and (b) on the opening up of spaces
for creative transformation in the merging of science and art.
A brainchild of Dalila Honorato, the rst and second TTT Conferences, held
in 2016 and 2017 in Corfu, Greece, was sponsored by the Ionian University
and supported by public and private institutions, mostly local. TTT2016 and
TTT2017 counted, with the presence of Stelarc, Roy Ascott, Adam Zaretsky,
Manos Danezis, Polona Tratnik, Gunalan Nadarajan, Irina Aristarkhova, Marta
de Menezes, María Antonia González Valerio, Andrew Carnie and Kathy High
as guest speakers. In 2016 and 2017, TTT teamed up with the Audiovisual
Arts Festival and the Municipal Gallery of Corfu to host the exhibitions “Stelarc:
Alternate Anatomies”, “iGMO: Adam Zaretsky” and “Body Esc” including works
of artists Andrew Carnie, Alkistis Georgiou, Marne Lucas, Joseph Nechvatal,
Kira O’ Rilley & Manuel Vason, Nikos Panayotopoulos, Ayse Gul Suter, Hege
Tapio and Adam Zaretsky. After two magnicent editions on the island that
gathered together an outstanding set of people, the conference traveled to the
American continent and then back to Europe.
The most distinctive features of this international conference are its
unconventional format, the community involved, and the sci-art topics addressed,
which are attracting so many talented minds. Dalila Honorato has given her heart
and commitment to the endeavour of turning TTT into a truly global community
which is inspired by merging art with new scientic insights and cutting-edge
technologies to move across borders and disciplines in order to foster our ability
to think outside the box.
In 2018 many of us had experienced a truly remarkable TTT conference in
Mexico City, which came with exhibitions, performances, and many wonderful
conversations. Our colleagues in Mexico, motivated and guided by the commitment
of María Antonia González Valerio and her community, made TTT in 2018 an
unforgettable event, which took place at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma
de México and Centro de Cultura Digital. TTT2018, coordinated in partnership
with the program of the FACTT 2018 - Festival Art & Science Trans-disciplinary
and Trans-national within the N Festival, included in its agenda the opening of
the exhibition “Espacios de Especies” with artworks, among others, by Brandon
Ballengée, Andy Gracie, Bios ex Machina, Jaime Lobato, Kathy High, Lena Ortega,
Marta de Menezes, Plataforma Bioscénica, Robertina Šebjanič, and Victoria
Vesna. The conference in Mexico was preceded by the TTT Satellite Physiological
Bioart - Body Performance Live Art Event “BioCuerpos Perfor|m|ados”, organized
by the Grace Exhibition Space in collaboration with Casa Viva Gallery, Paranoid
Visions UTA, and Anemonal, with performances, among others, by Boryana
Rossa, Alexander Romania, Praba Pilar, Adam Zaretsky, Alejandro Chellet, Marita
Solberg, Jacco Borggreve, Margherita Pevere, Cecilia Vilca and Lorena Lo Peña.
The TTT event in Mexico City was the blueprint of what we also wanted to
achieve in Vienna in 2020. The University of Applied Arts would have provided
excellent facilities with its numerous new buildings and would have been a most
appropriate location to host the TTT community. The city of Vienna is home to
a number of impressive institutions, which were eager to learn about the very
topics that TTT conferences are addressing and developing since its early days.
When COVID-19 hit us hard in March 2020, the art school closed its doors to
ght the spread of the virus and so we decided to host TTT2020 Vienna in a
virtual mode, keeping our community connected in the midst of this global crisis.
As a consequence of the level of our unpreparedness to host a fully remote
event, we all embarked on an unprecedented experiment. Nevertheless, we
were fully aware that the outbreak of this pandemic would turn into a global
crisis; however, it did not happen out of the blue. In the last two decades we
have experienced two disease outbreaks caused by new coronaviruses that
have jumped from animals to humans, and the current pandemic is the third that
we are seeing (Sars-CoV, Mers-CoV, and Sars-CoV-2). Even if Homo sapiens
has always consumed wild animals and the interaction of virus and bacteria
among humans and animals is common, today it is our social and economic
behaviour that is an important driver—we are destroying our ecosystems and
putting enormous pressure on wildlife, which is currently losing its familiar
habitats and its natural resources on an unprecedented scale. The way we
foster mass consumerism, global trade, and our unparalleled mobility (which
enables infections to spread so quickly) provides an ideal environment for the
transmission and spreading of pathogens, which has the potential to cause
global pandemics even more devastating than the current COVID-19 crisis.
For some time now, pandemics have been regarded as a major global
challenge by a number of multilateral governance institutions that are tasked
with analysing catastrophic risks and are making e󰀨orts to develop new models
for more e󰀨ective global collaboration and collective action. Global catastrophic
risks are very rare, but when they happen, they are disruptive in the extreme.
There are still many lessons to learn from the current pandemic. Probably
the most excruciating is to acknowledge the collapse of a worldview, defended
since modernity in the Western world, which believed that reason was governing
the course of the world. There was an immense belief that diplomatic channels,
political institutions, and a civilised Western community would open spaces
for dialogue and negotiation, in cases where we, as the world, would need to
act together. Yet what we have experienced is the non-existence of institutions
and the total impossibility of rational dialogue. Instead, what has prevailed is
money and rampant capitalism; issues around pharmaceuticals and the actions
of governments have shown us that the only thing governing the course of
the world is to make the rich even richer. There has been no solidarity, only
naked ambition. We have learned that the richest in the world have increased
their wealth by fty percent, while the vast majority of people despaired. It is
utterly outrageous to see how the big pharmaceutical companies have made
gigantic prots from knowledge that rightly belongs to all of humanity and not
to the absurdity of patents that rely on discoveries made since the beginning
of time. This was a moment where we needed to act together, as a species, to
save each other, to help each other. Instead of that, all we got was nationalism,
borders, and the hoarding of vaccines and resources by rich countries. Rich in
what? we could ask. Rich in a most exploitative capitalism that is destroying our
planet? Well, probably.
Knowledge and expertise about global catastrophic risks and e󰀨ective
structures of global governance to confront them need to be widely spread,
along with a di󰀨erent notion of justice, of care, of community, and of well-being.
Although in 2022 we are still in the middle of this crisis, it is already clear that
most governments did too little too late to ght the spread of COVID-19. Only
some countries in Asia were better prepared because they had learned their
lesson from the SARS outbreak in 2003. And yet, at the same time, we have
seen the price being paid by the populations in Asia that were and still are forced
to lockdown in extreme conditions. The lack of leadership and governance for
managing, reducing, or even eliminating this pandemic shows decits on many
levels, and make it obvious that we have to break down old silos and set aside
narrow national and political interests. We all have to learn our lesson from the
failures in global cooperation to date, because pandemics like the COVID-19
crisis or other global catastrophic risks do not stop at national borders.
When we have overcome this pandemic in the years to come, in the
aftermath of the virus we shall have to start to reect about the fact that this
situation has increased the appreciation of living online—something that will
likely continue and even grow once we get through this crisis. Also, we will
have to talk about the uneven level of preparedness for moving our lives into
virtual worlds, because this crisis has exposed once again the massive scale of
existing inequalities. Technology is not ubiquitous, is not equal, and it has never
been democratic. And even if we recognise that the virtual worlds have produced
incredible opportunities for exchanging ideas and for continuing to work, we
need to acknowledge at the same time that living online has its tangible limits.
On one side, it uses a tremendous amount of energy and fosters the production
and consumption of technological artefacts, and on the other side, it cannot and
will never be a substitute for physical presence: we need to reconsider what it
means to be there, at a conference for example, with one’s whole body and not
just with eyes and ears plugged into a screen.
In November 2020 it was not just the pandemic that made the temperature
drop in the atmosphere of Vienna, but also in its overall morale as we faced a
brutal terror attack that claimed the lives of innocent victims—killing four people
and injuring 23, seven with life-threatening injuries, including two students of the
University of Applied Arts Vienna. This terror act was a series of shootings that
occurred on 2 November 2020 only a few hours before the city was due to enter
a second lockdown light because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A gunman started
shooting in the city centre of Vienna, only some hundred meters away from one
of the art school’s buildings. The attacker was killed by police and later identied
as a sympathiser of the Islamic State.
The di󰀨erent editions of TTT have contemplated developments in science
and technology that seem to enhance the borders of our experience of worlds and
selves, revealing sometimes the fragility of social values. The TTT community has
proposed critique within transdisciplinarity, where science, arts, and humanities
meet in a research quest, in an attempt to reframe and recongure what there is.
TTT has always been transgressive and subversive. What constitutes the
unstable limits of what can be morally and epistemically accepted should be read
within the historical horizons of cultures and circumstances. After all, what seems
outrageously transgressive at one moment in time and from one perspective
may eventually transform into a commonplace practice. As we experience and
even endorse a gradual, but substantial, de-centring away from anthropocentric
values and ontologies, critique potentially harbours turmoil. Art practices pose
critical questions about our certainties; sciences and humanities constantly test
our limits and our ideas of worlds by pushing forward the conditions in which
knowledge is produced.
By focusing on diverse ways of fostering transgression and transcendence in
art, science, and the humanities, with the TTT 2020 Vienna call we were searching
for art practices that pose critical questions about our certainties concerning the
conditions and circumstances in which knowledge is produced. We were also
interested in learning more about artistic strategies, which are eager to engage
with current developments in science and technology, especially those that seem
to enhance the limits of our experience of our worlds and ourselves, revealing
sometimes the fragility of social norms and values. With TTT 2020 Vienna we
intended to o󰀨er our community a stimulating framework for transdisciplinary
exchange and profound critique about the ways identities, ideologies, multiplicities,
worlds, and visions get accepted or rejected, invented, or destroyed. We promoted
collaborations between artists and scientists to amplify ways of knowing that will
enable the circulation of epistemic reection within diverse elds of knowledge
through a diverse set of formats. Such a transfer process of styles of thought or
thought collectives was articulated almost a century ago by the Polish scientist
Ludwik Fleck (1896–1961) in his publication “Entstehung und Entwicklung einer
wissenschaftlichen Tatsache” [Genesis and Development of a Scientic Fact], which
was rst published in German in 1935 (by the Schwabe Verlagsbuchhandlung
in Basel) and in English in 1979 (by the University of Chicago Press in Chicago
with a foreword by Thomas Kuhn, whose 1962 book The Structure of Scientic
Revolutions became very inuential in the academic world).
During the second half of the twentieth century, Fleck’s book evolved into
the most signicant contribution to sociological accounts of scientic knowledge.
With his monograph, Fleck aimed to explain how scientic ideas change over
time and that scientic facts are culturally conditioned. The key argument in
Fleck’s sociological investigation about the production of scientic facts points
out that scientic knowledge is always produced under certain socio-cultural
and psychological conditions and therefore can neither be evaluated separately
from the context in which it takes place nor the people who are involved. In his
descriptions of the development of scientic insights, Fleck repeatedly refers
to the changes and transformations that go hand in hand with an exchange
of thoughts and ideas—whether within a particular scientic community or
between disciplines or art and science. In this exchange process Fleck found an
auspicious source for the discovery of new knowledge because one is obliged
to get acquainted with new epistemologies or the logic of a di󰀨erent scientic
regime. Such transfer processes of styles of thought would stimulate the
readiness for new perspectives thereby opening up opportunities for creating
new insights, while also rethinking and perceiving existing scientic praxis and
discourse in a fresh way. Deeply convinced that the interaction of art, science,
and the humanities is capable of fostering insights about much-needed social
transformations, we initiated in Vienna fruitful dialogues, interactions, and
unexpected opportunities between artists and scientists.
Whereas in the early days artists who engaged with science primarily sought
to reveal the state of the art of cutting-edge technology or aimed to detect the
epistemological shifts caused by the technoscientic regime, current practices are
responding to the growing ecological crisis we face with practices often referred to
as ecological art or “eco art” as a comprehensive term denoting art’s commitment
to environmentalism. In recent years social justice and ecological integrity have
found increasing resonance in the contemporary art world, giving rise to a wide
range of artistic strategies located at the intersection of art and science.
TTT2020 Vienna/Online was thus also a contribution to current transformative
sustainability research for it explored the expanding eld of aesthetic practices
engaging with ecological emergencies and the politics of ecology with the goal
of advancing the innovation of dynamics for collaborative and sustainable
ways of being. A number of contributions presented artistic responses to the
growing ecological crisis by showing meaningful visual artworks or collaborative
actions to increase community resilience, or in order to inspire individual actions
directed towards systemic change, or to foster changes in individual attitudes
and behaviours to become active players in the much-needed dynamics of
socio-ecological transformation processes towards a more sustainable future.
The question that was driving several presentations was to understand
how and under what conditions such niche innovations, which seem to work
successfully in hybrid and artistic contexts, can be condensed and upscaled to
innovative transformation paths - stabilising new and more sustainable regimes.
Is it possible to transfer diverse forms of transformative aesthetic literacy to
other areas of our fragile societies in order to enhance new social practices and
to promote positive change through futures literacy?
Many questions remained open, and many new ones were posed during
the conference. The growing TTT community will continue, in further editions,
to address these topics that are not only our continuing interest, but also
that gather us together in the thinking and producing of di󰀨erent possibilities
to cohabit in this very much broken world. Since its beginning TTT seeks to
provide a comfortable setting for the interaction of its participants and the
students of the academic institution hosting it. This is accomplished through
coordinating the conference’s agenda with the development of other activities
such as art exhibitions, screenings, live performances, book presentations,
poster exhibitions, and workshops developed in collaboration with other
organizations. Among the outcomes of the conference are its proceedings,
initially published only as a free digital by the Ionian University, and since 2017
also gathering a selected number of papers as a special issue in the Technoetic
Arts journal published by Intellect. The proceedings of TTT2020 Vienna/Online
are published in two parts: over three issues of Technoetic Arts journal and in
this open-access publication.
This book, following the structure of the conference, includes 50 chapters
by 73 authors (order of entrance): François-Joseph Lapointe, John Santomieri,
Felipe Shibuya, Alvax aka Valeria Di Sabato, Natacha Lamounier Ribeiro, Zsóa
Jakab, Adnan Hadzi, Nobuhiro Masuda, Andrea Gogová, Maria Athanasekou,
Roxani Giannou, Evmora Leventi, Claudia Schwarz-Plaschg, Maria Manuela
Lopes, Evaguelia Diamantopoulou, Jatun Risba, Kimberly Johnson, Rudolf
Arnold, Gudrun Wollnik, Julia Sprenger, Maria Chalkou, Amalia Foka, Miguel
Oliveros Mediavilla, Arantzazu Saratxaga Arregi, Yanai Toister, Jose Hopkins
Brocq, Cecilia Vilca, Lorena Lo Peña, Kim Doan Quoc, Yosaku Matsutani, Anna
Kedziora, Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen, Ziwei Yan, [M]Dudeck, Niki Sperou,
Paula Nishijima, Michael Manfé, Mihai Băcăran, Erik Zepka, Roberta Buiani,
Erik Vogt, Kazuhiro Jo, Roy Tamaki, Takuya Ishikawa, Tomoya Matsuura, Nigel
Llwyd William Helyer, Luc Messinezis, Apostolos Loufopoulos, Mark Horvath,
Adam Lovasz, Marius Armonas, Vasileios Bouzas, Ksenia Yurkova, Nicole
Clouston, Annick Bureaud, Kathy High, Marta de Menezes, Jennifer Willet,
Byron Rich, Paula Burleigh, Francesco Kiais, Monica C. Locascio, Pêdra
Costa, Zosia Hołubowska, Florentina Holzinger, Daniela Brill Estrada, Elisabeth
von Samsonow, Karolina Żyniewicz, Regine Rapp, Christian de Lutz, Christl
Baur, Jill McDermid-Hokanson and Adam Zaretsky. Together these chapters
represent the online program of TTT2020, divided into sessions, roundtables
and artboxes, numbered without much sense of linearity simply using the
coronavirus spike proteins side-by-side with the usual one word naming that
have characterized other TTT conferences: NSP13 / Moist, NSP2 / Brute,
ORF8 / Sideways, NSP14 / Automaton, NSP10 / Phrenic, NSP12 / Epic, NSP16
/ Allure, NSP15 / F-word, NSP3 / Mold, NSP9 / Channel, NSP5 / (W)Hole, NSP1
/ Creature, NSP7 / Demise, ORF1ab / Tonic, ORF6 / Tutelage, ORF7b / Index,
ORF7a / Equipoise, ORF9b / Auspice, NSP6 / Growl, ORF10 / Crack and NSP8
/ Sustenance. Strangely this seemed to make more sense than any attempt to
represent order.
So, yes, we guess that after all the joint e󰀨orts of organizers and participants
in TTT2020 Vienna/Online denitely were worth it, and this book is here to prove
it! But we want more now. As if the pandemic was not enough, we are emerged
throughout 2022 in multiple humanitarian crises caused by international warfare
and growing civil rights restrictions pushed by patriarchal zealous going retro-
overboard. More than ever it is important to support our diverse network of people,
our weirdos united. We need to meet again in person in one single place this
time. The next TTT will be in Valletta, in the island of Malta where the conference
was for the rst time imagined, now it’s time to put it in practice, so please don’t
forget to save the date: 27-29 September 2023, we hope to see you at the fth
edition of Taboo-Transgression-Transcendence in Art & Science.
Ah, Squoosh it:
Decolonizing the Colon
Squoosh is an e󰀨ort to decolonize the gay colon from its governing politics of
implicit cultural values; those that often necessitate performative interventions
which predispose the region to sexually transmitted diseases during homosexual
intercourse. In an attempt to be ‘clean’—largely an e󰀨ort to rid the body of its
nonhuman aspects such as organic materials and microbiome, cleanliness rituals
such as rectal douching do more harm than benet human health, and function to
reinforce the dominance of othering practices and sub/dom hierarchies. In an e󰀨ort
to queer the view of cleanliness within the landscape of the gay body and its sexual
practices, we imagine Squoosh as alternatives to harmful rectal douching, and
reimagine choices equally benecial to both human and nonhuman participants
and their mutualistic wellness.
We thank Coalesce: Center for Biological Art and the Department of Art at University
at Bu󰀨alo for providing support and structure so that this project could be carried out.
KEYWORDS Body, Decolonization, Douching, Feminism, LGBTQ community, Microbiota.
Squoosh is a collaboration between two queer artists, John Santomieri and Felipe
Shibuya, whose main objective is to promote discussions on how queer identity
is embodied and subjectivated by macho, patriarchal societies, and how the
queer physical body exists in forms as a colonized landscape (Fanon et al., 2008;
Rice et al., 2020; Sekyi-Otu, 1997). In this article, Squoosh brings to the table
a discussion of how specically the douching process has oppressed and still
oppresses women and the LGBTQ community through a ‘cleansing’ of the body
and consequently, the loss of micro-diversity and identity, often to the detriment
of wellness. The work here is presented in the form of lm slides taken from a
performance for the fourth conference Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in
Art & Science conference, held online in November 2020.
It is known that the human gut contains a large community of microorganisms,
also known as gastrointestinal microbiota, that helps in the digestion process, in
the synthesis of vitamins, and in the protection against harmful external agents
(Heintz-Buschart & Wilmes, 2018). The diversity and density of this microbiota
are strongly correlated with factors that have been well studied, such as the host’s
diet and drug use (Hooper et al., 2012; Sommer & Bckhed, 2013). However, the
balance of this rich community is also a󰀨ected by numerous other external factors
that are still poorly understood, especially in considering interactions with cultural
and performative phenomena such as douching.
Douching is the process of washing certain regions of the body, such as the
vagina and rectum, by introducing a jet of water or chemically processed liquid
into these cavities (Cottrell, 2010). This process is often used by the LGBTQ
community and heteronormative women to ensure cleanliness of their body
cavities before sexual intercourse. Despite its apparent benets, douching is an
extremely invasive process that weakens the intestinal mucosa and therefore
the vagina, rectum and colon. Douching may cause a series of complications
from bacterial infections, to an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted
diseases, and cervical cancer (Brotman et al., 2008; Ham-brick et al., 2018;
Schilder et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 1997). Although rectal douching predisposes
the body to incurable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, it is often felt necessary to
being perceived as ‘clean’ and sexually desireable, and to experience sexual
pleasure within the context of homosexual intercourse among men (Schilder et
al., 2010).
Because it is a process associated with what is considered “impure”, douching
is a topic permeated by taboos. It carries with it the absence of discussion,
echoing a loss of microbial identity, and repression su󰀨ered by the communities
that practice it (Image 1; see Abma et al., 1995; Carballo-Diéguez et al., 2018;
Merchant et al., 1999; Schilder et al., 2010).
Image 1. Film slides taken from the Taboo part of the performance presented
at the fourth Conference Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in Art & Science, November 2020.
Image 2. Film slides taken from the Transgression part of the performance presented
at the fourth Conference Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in Art & Science, November 2020.
In the United States, douching has had a long relationship with feminism.
Historically douches were used by women as a form of contraception for
centuries, but they have also considered and perpetuated the vagina (and
women) as undesirable, odorous, and dirty (Crann et al., 2017). Social and kinship
pressures, often instigated by well-funded ad campaigns, have helped interpolate
such negative associations and values of clean vs. unclean into personal identity
narratives, creating a desire for women to use toxic bleach-based products such
as Lysol harmful to their physical bodies (Heller, 2019; Jenkins et al., 2018).
Although controversial, vaginal douching is still widely used (often in higher rates
by women of color), and rectal douching especially by the LGBTQ community in
gay and trans populations (Annang et al., 2006; Crann et al., 2017; Jenkins et al.,
2018; Schilder et al., 2010).
In these scenarios, the quality of the water used for douching is also an
important point of discussion, since it directly a󰀨ects the health of the microbiota,
and is in contact with one of the most permeable organs of the body (Bischo󰀨
et al., 2014; Hansen et al., 2018). Although water quality in the United States is
considered “safe,” millions of people do not have adequate access to this resource
(many of which live in marginalized communities). These reasons range from
inadequate water treatment by government agencies to the lack of maintenance
of the plumbing in the homes (Patel et al., 2020).
Beyond the nefarious and physically harmful agenda of the douche, specically
on women, queers, and persons of color; what does it mean to strip away not just
protective mucal linings, but bacterial lineages that have accumulated in human
families? This is seen visualized by artist Kathy High’s artworks, The Landscape of
Lost Microbes, and Family Bio-Crests (High, 2020). This loss of bacterial diversity
may be the loss of intraspecies diversity and personal identity, executed by
predominantly western misogynistic and colonial ideals of cleanliness (Image 2).
Throughout human history, the queer body and the female body–among othered
kinds of bodies–have been depressed by views of what is “correct, beauty, pure
and clean” (see Crann et al., 2017; Fanon et al., 2008). This patriarchal (and again,
colonial) vision has established taboos of the body that have sustained over time,
spanning generations and cultures (Rice et al., 2020). As these taboos come into
debate, and especially when introduced by those who have experienced their
own bodies oppressed and victimized, discussions arise that promote necessary
confrontations. These become opportunities for envisioning change, and giving
voice to those previously obscured and marginalized, and in the case of the
human microbiome, to those nonhuman. As we begin to better understand the
impacts our microbiome has on personal identity, health and wellness, we must
reconsider actions that perpetuate ideas of the human self as something that is
solely human, or at least exclusively one type of human, and one separate from
its larger ecology (Image 3).
Image 3. Film slides taken from the Transcendence part of the performance presented
at the fourth Conference Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in Art & Science, November 2020.
© Courtesy of the authors.
Image 4. Film slides taken from the Transformation part of the performance presented
at the fourth Conference Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in Art & Science, November 2020.
© Courtesy of the authors.
Squoosh aims to initiate and engage in a conversation about queering
conventional colonial relationships to both body and landscape, and looking past
the human self and toward its ecological interconnectedness. Using the colon
and rectal douching as a microcosm of gay behavior, we question the function of
gay cultural performances such as rectal douching and its necessity, especially
when they function to perpetuate harmful e󰀨ects such as disease susceptibility.
While we acknowledge the vast benets of ‘clean’ in the context of biomedicine,
we ask what does it mean to be ‘clean’ and what stakes are involved. We question
the overarching value system of clean vs. dirty, and its binary historical usage
in perpetuating colonial and capitalist exploitations of both the landscape and
the human body. In our practice, by documenting the microbiome and how it is
a󰀨ected by these arbitrary cultural interventions, by expanding and transgressing
taboos through conversation, creating performances of water sampling and
looking for resolutions and / or alternatives for douching such as healthy diet
and advanced physical solutions, we hope to transform the physical body from
previous conceptualized modalities that exclude nonhuman awareness and
wholistic conceptions of the self. To do so, we seek to include the ways in which
queer persons function organismally, and identify themselves sexually through
physical intercourse, and transcend from potentially harmful stereotypes and
applied cultural values such as ‘cleanliness’ and ‘purity’ (Image 4).
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Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in Art & Science 2020
Editors: Dalila Honorato, María Antοnia González Valerio,
Ingeborg Reichle & Andreas Giannakoulopoulos
Ionian University - Department of Audio & Visual Arts
ISBN: 978-960-7260-70-3
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Studies in rodent models have shown that alterations in drinking water pH affect both the composition of the gut microbiota and host glucose regulation. To explore a potential impact of electrochemically reduced alkaline (pH ≈ 9) versus neutral (pH ≈ 7) drinking water (2 L/day) on human intestinal microbiota and host glucose metabolism we conducted a randomized, non-blinded, cross-over study (two 2-week intervention periods, separated by a 3-week wash-out) in 29 healthy, non-smoking Danish men, aged 18 to 35 years, with a body mass index between 20.0 to 27.0 kg m-2. Volunteers were ineligible if they had previously had abdominal surgery, had not been weight stabile for at least two months, had received antibiotic treatment within 2 months, or had a habitual consumption of caloric or artificially sweetened beverages in excess of 1 L/week or an average intake of alcohol in excess of 7 units/week. Microbial DNA was extracted from faecal samples collected at four time points, before and after each intervention, and subjected to 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing (Illumina MiSeq, V4 region). Glycaemic regulation was evaluated by means of an oral glucose tolerance test.No differential effect of alkaline versus neutral drinking water was observed for the primary outcome, overall gut microbiota diversity as represented by Shannon’s index. Similarly, neither a differential effect on microbiota richness or community structure was observed. Nor did we observe a differential effect on the abundance of individual operational taxonomic units (OTUs) or genera. However, analyses of within period effects revealed a significant (false discovery rate ≤5%) increase in the relative abundance of 9 OTUs assigned to order Clostridiales, family Ruminococcaceae, genus Bacteroides, and species Prevotella copri, indicating a potential effect of quantitative or qualitative changes in habitual drinking habits. An increase in the concentration of plasma glucose at 30 minutes and the incremental area under the curve of plasma glucose from 0 30 and 0 120 minutes, respectively, was observed when comparing the alkaline to the neutral intervention. However, results did not withstand correction for multiplicity. In contrast to what has been reported in rodents, a change in drinking water pH had no impact on the composition of the gut microbiota or glucose regulation in young male adults. The study is registered at (NCT02917616).
Full-text available
To inform the development of HIV-prevention rectal douches, we reviewed the scientific literature and online instructional videos on rectal douching associated with receptive anal intercourse (RAI). Up to 88% of men who practice RAI ever have douched, while 43–64% have douched recently. Of them, 87–97% douche before RAI and 13–48% afterwards. Water, occasionally mixed with soap or salt, is used most often, although up to 31% of men use commercial products. Douching is more common among individuals reporting substance use, sexually transmitted infections, or being HIV-infected. Scant literature is available on women’s rectal douching practices, but it is apparently less frequent than among men (32 vs. 70%). Videos advise using 2–3 doses of liquid and retaining it for 10–30 s before expelling. These findings can inform the development of a safe and acceptable rectal douche for HIV prevention.
Full-text available
Full article available: We explore Canadian women’s use of vaginal hygiene products including feminine washes, douches, sprays, deodorants, wipes, and powders. Vaginal hygiene products in North America are part of a two billion dollar industry, which focuses on cleanliness and freshness in their advertising toward women. In interviewing women who were currently using or had previously used vaginal hygiene products, we found that vaginal cleanliness and freshness were also frequently brought up as reasons for using these products. Using an inductive thematic analysis informed by Braun and Clarke (2013) we explore how attaining a clean-and-fresh vagina has become a subjective physical need for the participants in our study. In a society where female genitalia are constructed as unclean, we argue the marketing of vaginal hygiene products contributes to the problematization of women’s genitalia by suggesting women need to use these products to attain an ideal (i.e., clean and fresh) vagina. The reliance on vaginal hygiene products reported by participants in attaining sensations of vaginal cleanliness and freshness raises concerns in the context of medical literature suggesting adverse health risks that may result from using some of these products. Potential risks include bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and a higher susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections, among others. We believe that companies that advertise these products as beneficial for vaginal health and hygiene can be perceived as not just misinforming women but also profiting from products that are harmful.
Full-text available
Rectal douching is a common but potentially risky practice among MSM; MSM who douche may be ideal candidates for rectal microbicides as HIV prevention. Herein we explored rectal douching and its association with condomless receptive anal intercourse (CRAI), group sex, rates of HIV and other STIs, and likelihood to use rectal microbicide gels. We recruited a sample of 580 MSM from a geosocial-networking smartphone application in Paris, France in 2016. Regression models estimated adjusted risk ratios (aRRs) for associations between rectal douche use and (1) engagement in CRAI, (2) group sex, (3) self-reported HIV and STI diagnoses, and (4) likelihood to use rectal microbicide gels for HIV prevention. 54.3% of respondents used a rectal douche or enema in the preceding 3 months. Douching was significantly associated with CRAI (aRR: 1.77), participation in group sex (aRR: 1.42), HIV infection (aRR: 3.40), STI diagnosis (aRR: 1.73), and likelihood to use rectal microbicide gels (aRR: 1.78). Rectal douching is common among MSM, particularly those who practice CRAI, and rectal microbicide gels may be an acceptable mode of HIV prevention for MSM who use rectal douches.
Full-text available
Data are accumulating that emphasize the important role of the intestinal barrier and intestinal permeability for health and disease. However, these terms are poorly defined, their assessment is a matter of debate, and their clinical significance is not clearly established. In the present review, current knowledge on mucosal barrier and its role in disease prevention and therapy is summarized. First, the relevant terms `intestinal barrier¿ and `intestinal permeability¿ are defined. Secondly, the key element of the intestinal barrier affecting permeability are described. This barrier represents a huge mucosal surface, where billions of bacteria face the largest immune system of our body. On the one hand, an intact intestinal barrier protects the human organism against invasion of microorganisms and toxins, on the other hand, this barrier must be open to absorb essential fluids and nutrients. Such opposing goals are achieved by a complex anatomical and functional structure the intestinal barrier consists of, the functional status of which is described by `intestinal permeability¿. Third, the regulation of intestinal permeability by diet and bacteria is depicted. In particular, potential barrier disruptors such as hypoperfusion of the gut, infections and toxins, but also selected over-dosed nutrients, drugs, and other lifestyle factors have to be considered. In the fourth part, the means to assess intestinal permeability are presented and critically discussed. The means vary enormously and probably assess different functional components of the barrier. The barrier assessments are further hindered by the natural variability of this functional entity depending on species and genes as well as on diet and other environmental factors. In the final part, we discuss selected diseases associated with increased intestinal permeability such as critically illness, inflammatory bowel diseases, celiac disease, food allergy, irritable bowel syndrome, and ¿ more recently recognized ¿ obesity and metabolic diseases. All these diseases are characterized by inflammation that might be triggered by the translocation of luminal components into the host. In summary, intestinal permeability, which is a feature of intestinal barrier function, is increasingly recognized as being of relevance for health and disease, and therefore, this topic warrants more attention.
Recent water quality crises in the United States, and recognition of the health importance of drinking water in lieu of sugar-sweetened beverages, have raised interest in water safety, access, and consumption. This review uses a socioecological lens to examine these topics across the life course. We review water intakes in the United States relative to requirements, including variation by age and race/ethnicity. We describe US regulations that seek to ensure that drinking water is safe to consume for most Americans and discuss strategies to reduce drinking water exposure to lead, a high-profile regulated drinking water contaminant. We discuss programs, policies, and environmental interventions that foster effective drinking water access, a concept that encompasses key elements needed to improve water intake. We conclude with recommendations for research, policies, regulations, and practices needed to ensure optimal water intake by all in the United States and elsewhere.
The human gut microbiome represents a complex ecosystem contributing essential functions to its host. Recent large-scale metagenomic studies have provided insights into its structure and functional potential. However, the functional repertoire which is actually contributed to human physiology remains largely unexplored. Here, by leveraging recent omics datasets, we challenge current assumptions regarding key attributes of the functional gut microbiome, in particular with respect to its variability. We further argue that the closing of existing gaps in functional knowledge should be addressed by a most-wanted gene list, the development and application of molecular and cellular high-throughput measurements, the development and sensible use of experimental models, as well as the direct study of observable molecular effects in the human host.
Women’s genitalia are constructed as a bodily site requiring ongoing surveillance, maintenance, and modification to conform to social norms. Women engage in a range of genital health, hygiene, and beauty practices, including the use of commercial and homemade vaginal douches, washes, wipes, sprays, and pubic hair removal, to modify their bodies. Using a social constructionist framework, we draw on interviews with 49 Canadian women to examine the construction of idealized (Western) genitalia as hairless, odorless, and free of discharge and ‘natural’ female genitalia as problematic through the mobilization of normative femininity and (hetero)sexuality discourses. Theorizing women’s genital health, hygiene, and beauty practices as a form of body work, we examine how women’s genital body work is constructed as a necessary and thus normative practice of femininity undertaken in the pursuit of idealized genitalia. A minority perspective that drew on alternative discourses to construct female genitalia as acceptable irrespective of genital body work is examined. Throughout our analysis, we examine the ways in which women negotiate issues of agency and choice in relation to their genital body work. Implications for women’s health in the context of the vaginal microbiome are explored.