Rivulets of solid filth, embedded pubic hairs, lacy puddles of collapsed lather, the invisible coating of epidermal cells from some anonymous donor—and that disgusting color, off-off white, or maybe scum gray, pearly like rotted teeth, an ivory piano key that's been fingered so often it gleams with a coating of oil and dust. Used soap is the perfect medium to explore capital's solution to communicable disease: It both generates fear of contagion and promises to resolve the danger it created. Just buy more soap. Or, better yet, antibacterial hand gel.
Communicable 2006 isn't just a single bar of used motel-room soap, but a whole nasty grid of them, strung together in a curtain. The artist, Jody Wood, collected the stubby bars from motels on Aurora Avenue (the Black Angus Motor, Marco Polo, and Vagabond inns)—and then, just for kicks, added a few from the rather more swank Sorrento Hotel on First Hill. Video projections of various pathogens fall across the soap curtain, but they're unnecessary. Ask the antibacterial industry: We fantasize our own germs.