Duane “Shorty” Davis goes on trial next week for terrorism charges — for leaving a decorated toilet outside a Towson courthouse. Davis is an artist, a former barbecue chef, and a political activist; his art of choice is making politically-charged toilet sculptures. When Davis dropped off one of his sculptures outside the courthouse last year (“festooned with newspaper clippings, an electronic transmitter and a cell phone,” according to the Baltimore Sun), the police brought the bomb squad in. Now Davis faces up to ten years in jail.
This week, Davis and filmmaker Rob Fiks stopped by the Marc Steiner Show to talk about the trial, and about the documentary Fiks is making about Davis’ life. The white art school filmmaker; the black political activist on trial; the accusations of police misconduct… and the toilet art at the center of the controversy: something about the story seems so wonderfully Baltimore. What won’t be wonderful, though, is if Davis ends up in jail for a misunderstood artistic statement. Locking him up doesn’t seem like it’ll make the world a safer place. We wish him luck at next week’s court date.