Our conversation played out rather slowly via email over the course of some weeks.
Q1dear christian. before corona, you had built a geodesic dome. with the corona measures, you had the idea to convert it into a one-person sauna. so you scaled down your design, ordered a small oven, made a tarp… and then went inside to sweat. how was the visit to your self-built sauna?
C: Quite sweaty. The heavy Cottoncloth (Nessel) insulates and permeates at the same time. Good climate. The oven is powerful enough for the small space. Combined with some water on the rocks each 2-3 minutes it creates a fresh heat with enough oxygen. If you are outside in the daytime, you can see some light through the cloth, but otherwise it is blind on both sides. so you are really concentrated on yourself and the experience. The natural materials and the construction could as well be used for a proper sweat hut. And yes: the impuls to do the piece was Corona-Time, as no Saunas were open for some months. And now again.
and since then you have, as far as i know, had the opportunity to exhibit the sauna…. but unfortunately you’re not able to receive visitors due to corona. how as the virus inspired and impacted your work?
the virus was the reason to do the work after all. in March i met a friend who wanted to tear down an old dome, that he had used as a stage with a roof, two thirds of a former bigger Dome. It was falling apart and he asekd me if I could tear it down, as the weather had already damaged some of the wood. At that moment I saw the possibility to make a smaller dome from it. The website www.domerama.com offers calculators and surprise: the leftover pieces and the still existing screws would match Exactly a 2 V – Dome, if changes in length and holes would work out. So the first lockdown was filled with activity in a backyard in Prenzlauer Berg. Bending the wood, softening with sandpaper, drilling new holes and cutting in a hackspace at night. I started documenting the process on facebook, People started to ask which material I used or how to do the ventilation. It became this open process by putting photos and some comment and reacting to or incoroporating the comments of the ohers. The Zero-Version was the construction with a plastic sheet around it, fixed by some orange string.
That was truly corona sauna for one.
can you tell us briefly what happened so far? and where you are right now!
The first version we discussed with friends and I offered them to put the sauna into their garden, so they could use it. After their first time they said that its getting smelly, probably because of the plastic. So we decided to design a Half-Ball from cloth to cover the construction instead of the plastic. I found out from Sauna-friends that Nessel ist a very good material and found exactly the right Baumwollleinstoff at a Outlet in Mahlsdorf.
Susanne drew up plans of the Kalottenform, which allows you to form a perfect Half ball (see attachment) With the Schnittmuster and the material I went to my old workplace Neuköllner Oper and did the Cutting and some easy Nähte, Christina did the difficult stuff then.
Followed by a longer talk with Friedrich, when it was possible to meet again outside in summer. we discussed the possible masterproject and he gave a hint: why not stick to what had been done already? And go from there. So for the June-“Vorspiel” I built a basic version of the masterproject, (See fotos), using my bigger dome as well, which I had built end of second semester in Ingos Werkstatt. And a classic gardena-Gardenshower and one emaille-bucket and a wooden spoon.
Til last weekend the installation was supposed to be part of the festival “Theater der Dinge” and I had already asked friends to help for the build-Up in Ballhaus Ost.
This space was very small and my ideas were dealing with that. How to come into a somehow claustrophobic space, crowded by the big objects, makes one feel small.
The project was announced under the title: Attention aerosols, putting together the experiences from builing in social architecture.
After the lockdown i rethought the project for the UNTEN –space, as there were now very
after visiting the Generalprobe of your piece < Attention Aerosoles! > 10 days ago, I can confirm: visiting the one-person sauna is a wonderfully sweaty experience. i experienced it as a very strong bodily sensation that made me feel very present in the small dome. i was in fact not alone, but with my 4month baby and to a large degree i experienced your work through his eyes, as i navigated the stations with him in my arms and he was very focussed.
you lead me through the work by telling me where to go and what i could do at each station, and mentioned that you did this because the cards you had initially intended did not work as planned. for the premier of the piece the next evening, did you devise a different way of leading people through the work? and if so, how did this work out?
First of all, wonderful that you visited with your son. Was the youngest audience member ever. Actually I started on the Tutorial/ Manual thinking late. The cards seemed a simple enough idea that turned out a desaster, when Ingo Mewes came as first visitor. Too dark, too complicated, he was concentrated on the cards instead of the interactive possibilities. Was my responsibility of course. So I changed on the general reherseal to a personal guide modus in improvisation. For the next day I thought of a more reduced and non-invasive way to point to the offerings and opportunities and tried to perfect that with each new person coming through.
As the Schaubude wants to put it on in January in a Mini-Festival this can be further worked out. The challenge is always to be not present at all in your own installation. Or a specific Character could be worked out, including costume. Or an Audio Version to be loaded on the mobile. As well I want to go further on the interactivity and the narration.
in the recent Böll publication Bildung+Kultur titled < Netztheater – Positionen, Praxis, Produktionen > (link?), you have a Beitrag titled < Live und auf Verlangen: Für ein Theater @home! > in which you reflect what you saw happen in the theatre scene due to corona measures closing the theatres and the theatres having strong incentives to (finally) explore online formats, which for many was a process of making videos of previous performances available online and being surprised at how much interest there was in this (simple) act. you write:
“Eine Online-Community aufzubauen, das ist ein Handwerk, das eine Strategie, Zeit und Inhalte benötigt, und denjenigen im Theater die heute noch sagen << Das will doch keine sehen >>, möchte man zurufen: << Fangt doch erstmal damit an! >>”
engl.: “Building an online community is a craft that requires strategy, time and content, and for those in the theatre who still say << nobody wants to see that >>, one would like to shout: << Go ahead and start! >>”
in your answer to my last question, you mentioned how you used Facebook as a platform to share your process of building the dome and that this live documentation provided content for discussion among your friends (and public?). did you see this process as part of the “performance”, as part of the work?
to me it feels very much that opening up and sharing the creative/creation process, offers content cape-able of drawing people in, providing moments of interaction, and appealing to new/different audiences. what opportunities do you see a sharing/performing of Praxis/Produktion holding for theatres? is this something that interests you?
Ok, many questions 😉
Fort the beginning I am positivly surprised that some theatres have learned from the first lockdown. The digital offers are being collected under a more specific menuposition (DT/ Digital or BE@home or HAUonline.) Navigation has become easier. The streaming is like a dooropener. As soon as the institutions put on their own channel – there is automatic incentive to fill it with original content. For many the first step ist o fill it with their productions, with the core of their analogue process. When that happens, more falls into place – Talks & Debates, Tutorials, Portraits, web-series either on reherseal process or fictional. Important in this step is the institutionalisation, for example to fill that position of a theatre/online/agent for digital development/ as a fixed position between dramaturgy and tech-department. Lets see.
What about opening up the process? Ok, I had good experiences as I was in control of the position I was working on. That was mostly on technical input in regard tot he Sauna-Construction. I am not shure how deep a FB-Freinds crowd would follow into the artistic thinking and be willing to contribute. But then I did not try – but simply put forward photos and some explanations on the operatice process. It definitely was good for myself to document in that public manner – and be reminded of the steps, the process took.
Looking back theier were ideas already in May 2019 at the first „Vorspiel“, then in Essen another step at „Next Level-Festival“, at the speculative objects – Class. Finally this came all together – and i could always go back in the timeline and remind myself of the stations and the decisions. As wellt he material is always coming back in slightly different forms and contexts.
“The challenge is always to be not present at all in your own installation. Or a specific Character could be worked out, including costume. Or an Audio Version to be loaded on the mobile. As well I want to go further on the interactivity and the narration.”
HPW>> i agree, i think it would be very interesting to explore the creation of a specific character (and costume) as narrator through your scene(s). but almost like to design it’s physical presence away, so that in could disappear into the dark and mostly be known by voice and location.
“Looking back theier were ideas already in May 2019 at the first „Vorspiel“, then in Essen another step at „Next Level-Festival“, at the speculative objects – Class. Finally this came all together – and i could always go back in the timeline and remind myself of the stations and the decisions. As wellt he material is always coming back in slightly different forms and contexts.”
HPW>> documentation is such a good tool for “looking back” and seeing things with a time-line perspective. i believe one can learn some useful things about oneself and one’s process from seeing how one works over time. being able to trace where our ideas come from, can be humbling. to know that they can be embedded in materials! and how almost always we have been working with them for much longer than we think, when we (re-)discover them anew.