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article imageExhibition shows the 'filthy reality of everyday life'

By Lynn Curwin     Jan 3, 2011 in Entertainment
London - It is definitely an unusual subject, but a new exhibition opening in London looks at the relationship humans have with dirt.
The Wellcome Collection’s show, called “Dirt: the filthy reality of everyday life,” includes visual art, photography, film, literature and scientific artifacts.
"Dirt is everywhere and periodically we get very worried about it,” Ken Arnold, director of public programmes at Wellcome Collection, said in a press release. “But we have also discovered that we need bits of it and, guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it.
“Dirt is a perfect subject for Wellcome Collection to explore in our eclectic fashion - the good and bad, the art and science, yesterday and today, in London, Glasgow, New York, Dresden, Delft and New Delhi."
Six places, in different periods, were chosen for exploring attitudes towards dirt and cleanliness: a home in seventeenth century Delft in Holland; a street in Victorian London; a hospital in Glasgow in the 1860s; a museum in Dresden in the early twentieth century; a community in present-day New Delhi; and a New York landfill site in 2030.
'Dirt' looks at the 17th century Dutch obsession with cleanliness, and the work done by mudlarks and ragpickers who searched through waste to make a living.
It tells of Joseph Lister, whose standards of cleanliness saved lives in hospitals but it also includes information on how the Nazis brought in horrors during their ethnic cleansing.
It looks at scavengers in New Delhi, the faecal sculptures of Santiago Sierra, and the project to transform a New York's landfill into a public park.
Many people are now obsessed with cleanliness and scientists are debating whether this is reducing their ability to combat infection.
Entrance to the exhibition is free but a publication, also entitled “Dirt: the Filthy Reality of Everyday Life” can be purchased.
Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a charity dedicated to achieving improvements in human and animal health.
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