"Common Sweat Sauna" - Urban public sauna, Public intervention. 2016. Zsenne Artlab, Brussels.
An urban nomadic sauna
A sauna was built in front of Zsenne Artlab in Brussels in August 2016. It was built without a budget or promotional efforts. The goal was to see if it was possible to built a functioning sauna from scrap materials (mostly harvested from old art projects from a variety of artists) on the street and to open up a crack for some sort of a dimension of magic realism to appear. It was built in one week and was operated for one week, open for public.
While building, people thought it was going to be a shack for homeless or refugees and when I said it was going to be a sauna people didn’t believe it. Sometimes it looked like a candid camera situation when a sweaty person jumped out of the sauna to have a shower on the street while somebody letting out his dog was looking full of disbelief at the scene. These are situations I find important to happen in a city where an entire system of corporate legalities distract this from happening. And where an entire media monopoly exists to anchor our desires to commerce.
The wellness industry has a wide set of rules and behavioral logics that prevent it from being a common experience with other people but more an individualized consumerist experience. The Common Sweat Saunas offers a real (and free) sauna experience and generates a commonality by creating a situation that is different and a bit weird. Through this gentle awkwardness in the public space it creates amongst the visitors a feeling of “we are in it together”. It is exactly this what has to be acknowledged, stress and the feeling of guilt are not individualized problems, the change of time and the speeding up of time ( “the shrinking of the present” as Hermann Lübbe calls it) is closely related to the political and economical structure of our society.
I see the Common Sweat Sauna as a work of art, not as an object but as a critical framework to look at our reality. We sat in silence with strangers in the first sauna and listened to the cars and people passing by, suddenly there was space for awareness and the world around us seemed to be in such a hurry.
The Sauna is moving through Brussels on different places and gathers a growing community of urban sauna adventures often combined with performances and artistic experiments.
With the generous help of: Feiko Beckers and Christian Hansen.
Built With Materials from:
Neighbors from Zsenne artlab, Elke van Campenhout (Bureau d'espoir), a.pass (advanced performance and scenography studies, Heike Langsdorf, Feiko Beckers, Hans van Wambeke.
"Tonebanks and Masking tape" performance by Christian Hansen.
-Zsenne Artlab Brussel (in public space)
-Jardin Maritime - Brussels (swallowing helmets - peas and parrots)
-Kaaistudio - Brussel (the artist commoner, conference)
-Nadine - Brussel (Wandering Arts Biennale)
The Sauna is heated by a fire stove made out of an old gas-bottle with a rack of stones to pour water on.