For Outhouse 2014, artist Michael Combs recreates a full size wood outhouse in the architectural style of a “bayhouse,” the traditional fishermen’s shacks that have dotted the marshlands of Long Island for the last three centuries. Combs, who is descended from a 17th century line of fishermen, duck hunters, and maritime tradition bearers, is particularly interested in the history of these isolated structures built from discarded materials as base camps for hunting and fishing.
“As a young boy, I would spend my summers down at our bayhouse on the Great South Bay. These houses were a place where men, and only men, stayed when they were hunting or waiting for the day’s catch. Outhouse 2014 replicates the actual primitive latrine that was located at the end of an old dock behind our family’s bayhouse. Initially, I feared visiting it late at night, but later in life I found it to be a place of solitude where I could hide and contemplate the feelings I had about hunting and killing and the stress that we placed on our natural environment. This way of thinking wasn’t praised around the bayhouse; too much was in question: our livelihood, tradition, heritage, masculinity. It was safer to keep those thoughts to myself, hidden, in private.” — Michael Combs
Outhouse 2014 is the working model for phase two, Self-Portrait 2015, an outhouse fabricated in aluminum and mirrors, for production in 2015–2016.